Sonia Rykiel’s staff stays loyal to label as ruling on acquisition bids looms
today Jun 25, 2019
On Monday, the staff of Parisian womenswear label Sonia Rykiel, currently in receivership, voiced their fears about the future, while the Paris trade court is set to rule in July on a still mysterious potential buyer.
“The employees care for this label,” said the staff's representatives at a press conference on Paris’s boulevard Saint-Germain, in front of the iconic label’s headquarters. “They are defending both their jobs and the brand, such is their attachment to [Sonia Rykiel],” said the representatives, who spoke anonymously.
In 2012, Sonia Rykiel sold an 80% share of its capital to Chinese investment fund Fung Brands, which then became First Heritage Brands and now also owns Belgian luxury leather goods brand Delvaux, as well as having a 100% stake in Sonia Rykiel since early 2016. Also in 2016, a few months after the label's eponymous designer died, Sonia Rykiel announced it was making a quarter of its employees redundant as it sought to make a new start.
In 2018, Sonia Rykiel’s revenue fell to €35 million, nearly half of what it was in 2012 when the label was bought, with operating losses of over €30 million. “We nevertheless received more than €200 million from our shareholders since 2012,” said the employee representatives, who are wondering how this money has been spent.
A job protection plan was introduced in 2017, for a loss of about 100 employees. According to a union source, between 120 and 130 people are currently working at Sonia Rykiel’s headquarters.
Sources told FashionNetwork.com that the most generous bid currently on the table provides for 90 of the 130 existing jobs to be maintained. It is a working hypothesis that hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Potential buyers have until June 26 to file their final bids with the court, which will then hold a hearing on July 1.
According to the employee representatives, there are currently ten bids on the table, of which three or four stand out from the rest. Among the potential buyers thought to be ahead of the pack are a Chinese group whose identity is unknown, and also, according to FashionNetwork.com sources, a French fashion distributor and a pool of investors led by Emmanuel Diemoz, a former director at Balmain who was already a candidate for the take-over of Carven last year, whose bid still needs to be finalised.