Apr 9, 2014
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SMCP: French fashion’s ambition meets with success

Apr 9, 2014

In time-honored fashion, it’s a big name that has been appointed CEO of SMCP (Sandro, Maje, Claudie Pierlot). Daniel Lalonde spent almost ten years with the group LVMH before taking the reins of Ralph Lauren International in January 2011.

Daniel Lalonde

While working at Bernard Arnault’s group, Lalonde headed the Louis Vuitton North America division and then more recently served as president of Moët & Chandon. One foot in the world luxury and the other in marketing, before joining LVMH, he served as CEO of Nespresso, which forms part of Nestlé group.

At the beginning of last December, notwithstanding, he left Ralph Lauren under somewhat vague circumstances. According to some sources, including Women's Wear Daily, Lalonde left “due to changes in the leadership team.”

By September 2013, it seems that the founder of the American group had developed an inner-core into which Daniel Lalonde did not fit.

By the time he left, he had remained less than two years at the American group, which has since welcomed another French manager, Valerie Hermann, who is now president of the luxury division created especially for her.

Lalonde’s arrival at SMCP follows that of Fabio Mancone, named at the beginning of last march to a newly created post: head of global branding and business development strategies.

French flair dominates at Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot

Notably, these two appointments give muscle to a French group that intends to become a global leader in the affordable luxury segment.

This was the aspiration of founding shareholders Judith Milgrom and her sister Evelyne Chétrite when they opened the doors to Elie Kouby and Frederick Biousse, who had been so successful at Comptoir des Cotonniers in developing the business and subsequently selling it off to the group Fast Retailing.

At SMCP, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) has been the majority shareholder since June 2013. Their influence is visible in these recent recruitments. They appear even more important now that, if Frederick Biousse and Elijah Kouby remain board members, they will become advisors to the president and thus have begun, in a way, the handover of power.

Frédéric Biousse and Elijah Kouby very concretely affirm, "Daniel will bring our brands an even more global and international perspective. We will help him to further develop the group, while maintaining the solid foundation and corporate culture that we have built with Evelyne and Judith over the past 7 years."

The success of this chemistry undoubtedly depends upon pursuing and even accelerating development, while at the same time retaining the spirit that originally ensured the label’s success. In plain English: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Jacques Garaïalde, Chairman of the SMCP’s Supervisory Board and one of the leaders of KKR in Europe (formerly at Boston Consulting Group and Carlyle) underscores the point: "turnover increased by over 20% in 2013. The group’s size has multiplied by sevenfold over the course of the past six years."

In 2013, SMCP saw a turnover of 422 million euros. As of the end of December, SMPC could count 714 stores in 14 countries, including 101 outlets in North America and 11 in Asia. International sales made up 35% of total volume. It's will certainly be outside of France that SMCP intends to find much of its future growth....

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