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French fashion retailer Camaïeu files for receivership

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Published
May 28, 2020
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The list of fashion chains seeking court protection for their financial difficulties, in France as elsewhere, is getting longer. After André, La Halle, Naf Naf and Orchestra, another French retailer, giant chain Camaïeu, has gone down this road. On May 26, Camaïeu, which claims to be the leading women's ready-to-wear retailer in France, sought judicial protection and filed for receivership before the trade court in Lille.


Camaïeu operates approximately 900 stores worldwide - DR


A source close to Camaïeu’s management told FashionNetwork.com that the initiative was partly prompted by the fact that Camaïeu was refused a state-backed loan (PGE), which it applied for to navigate the Covid-19 crisis. “Obtaining a PGE would have enabled us to deal with the crisis and bolster our financial position, in order to continue the transformation process we began in October,” said the source. “Despite the regional authorities’ and the government’s endorsement, and that of Camaïeu’s shareholders, the loan application was refused, making it impossible for the company to deal with the liquidity crisis,” added the source.

Camaïeu was founded in northern France in 1984. It is currently active in 21 countries and operates nearly 900 stores, of which 650 are located in France. Last March, Camaïeu announced it wanted to downsize its international operations by closing down 135 stores located outside its domestic market by the end of 2020 - in Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, among other countries.

The company was set to deploy a transformation plan which included “a financing deal that was about to be signed off with shareholders and the banks,” according to the source. But the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic put a severe strain on the fashion retailer's cash-flow situation. Camaïeu was forced to close its stores and recorded a loss of earnings of €162 million, its revenue falling by 95%.

Filing for receivership will enable Camaïeu to explore the possibility of finding a new owner. Like La Halle (which is currently seeking buyers and has received partial acquisition bids), Camaïeu is a sizeable chain, worth €718 million in annual sales: potential buyers with enough financial muscle are scarce.

In August 2019, Camaïeu underwent a change in leadership: Joannes Soënen was appointed as president, six months after Modacin, the holding company that owned Camaïeu, was taken over by its creditors.

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