Kookaï, now owned by Australian group Magi, continues to trade in France
French fashion retailer Kookaï was sold in July 2017 by the Vivarte group, and is beginning a new phase in its history under the banner of Australian company Magi. Kookaï's new owner was for 26 years its licensed distributor in Australia and New Zealand, and has set up a twin management team, operating both in Australia and France and allowing for a measure of commercial and creative independence.
The new-look Kookaï Group now operates 195 stores worldwide, and "looks forward to a bright future." "Our vision for Kookaï is to create a unified, worldwide brand that is true to its roots, and will continue to push the boundaries of fashion, challenging the retail industry's downward trend," said Bianca Vagner-Cromb, of Kookaï Australia.
One vision, but a twin operational set-up: the brand's French team will continue to function, based in Epinay-sur-Seine and led by Laurence Bénat, in charge since 2015.
Kookaï's long-standing Australian partners, Robert Cromb and Danielle Vagner, started to work with the French label as local distributors in 1992. Following the acquisition, they are now respectively the brand's global General Manager and Creative Director.
While Kookaï has made a name for itself in Europe thanks to patterned knitwear and printed fabrics, in Australia it flourished with a more glamorous style, less reliant on knitwear. Magi has to all intents and purposes imposed its own style in Oceania, even setting up a local creative team, which remains firmly in place at Magi's Melbourne headquarters. "We are both working on the brand from our respective headquarters, each office operating its own product development team which designs its own collections, sharing creative inspirations across the two hemispheres," said Bianca Vagner-Cromb.
Magi operates 36 Kookaï stores in Australia and New Zealand, and also a manufacturing site in Fiji, which produces the majority of the collections for the local markets.
Kookaï was founded in France in 1983 by Jean-Lou Tepper, Jacques Nataf and Philippe de Hesdin, and was bought by French fashion group Vivarte in 1996. In 2015, the retailer had to activate a recovery plan, transferring its headquarters and closing down 12 stores, trying to get back on track financially.
Asked whether they plan to downsize in France, the new owners replied that "we do not plan to close down stores in France, and we will focus on creating a more finely tuned range, targeted to our loyal French customers." According to our sources, Kookaï stores have been closed in three French locations in the last six months.
In the last fiscal year before the acquisition, Kookaï's French company generated a revenue of €76 million. It currently operates approximately 120 monobrand stores in France, two stores and several retail corners with Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, and 11 shops in Switzerland.
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