Go Sport’s managing director Benoît Verdier leaves
In September, Benoît Verdier, the young, dynamic managing director of French sporting goods retailer Go Sport, who had taken over the helm in January 2022, presented his plan to transform Go Sport. On paper, the plan was ambitious: it was designed to enable Go Sport to go upmarket, turning into a multi-sport specialist attractive to industry brands and customers. But Verdier will not be able to deploy this plan. According to French sector magazine Sport Guide, Verdier is no longer the managing director of the company owned by the Hermione People & Brands group (HPB). Sport Guide has reported that Wilhelm Hubner, president of HPB, and Samuel Alimi, its vice-president, have taken over Verdier’s functions as interim.
It will be Hubner and Alimi who, on December 19, will have to answer to the city of Grenoble’s prosecutor, who is seeking information on Go Sport’s financial situation. The legal proceedings began after the company’s employee committee, together with Go Sport's representatives for the CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC and CFDT unions, expressed concern that “over 2,000 Go Sport employees” may “suffer the fate of Camaïeu’s employees,” according to a statement sent to the AFP agency. The employee representatives said they had filed for “legal proceedings with the trade court before it was too late.” According to Le Monde newspaper, Go Sport's auditors, KPMG and Ernst & Young, sent “a special warning report” to the company’s senior management on November 22.
HPB stated that it “formally denies the erroneous information circulating on Go Sport’s financial situation,” and that “the Grenoble prosecutor’s summons is based on erroneous information that is being rectified, and is causing serious harm to Go Sport and its shareholders.” Go Sport’s like-for-like sales have reportedly grown compared to last year. HPB is the property of Bordeaux businessman Michel Ohayon, and it also owns 25 Galeries Lafayette branches outside Paris. On December 6, the group indicated that Go Sport’s current position “allows us to make positive cash flow forecasts for the whole of 2023, enabling [the company] to deal with financial risk and economic tensions.” HPB further warned that “no comparison should be made between Camaïeu and Go Sport.” French ready-to-wear retailer Camaïeu was liquidated on July 25.
Go Sport’s relaunch plan necessarily hinged on a sizeable bank loan.
A few weeks ago, HPB said that Go Sport, with its 223 stores, would be able to generate a total revenue of €500 million, of which €380 million via its directly managed business.
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