Celio’s Sébastien Bismuth says Camaïeu is sister brand to Celio
Sébastien Bismuth is a man who likes a challenge. After creating accessories brand Moa from scratch in 2002, then taking charge of lingerie retailer Undiz, he undertook the job of overhauling and relaunching teenage fashion brand Jennyfer in 2018, backed by a pool of investors. Renamed Don't Call Me Jennyfer a year later, the brand was able to revamp its image to meet the expectations of Gen Z consumers, adding new impetus to its business.
In 2020, while Covid-19 was disrupting the fashion retail sector, Bismuth also assumed the role of chair of Celio's executive board, to turn around the fortunes of the French menswear retailer, whose revenue is close to €500 million. Celio, which claims to be the leader in men's ready-to-wear in France with an 8% market share, eventually exited a job protection procedure in October 2021.
Just over a year later, on December 7, Bismuth, 50, together with brothers Laurent and Marc Grosman, both shareholders in Celio, bought the brand name Camaïeu at auction for €1.8 million. With the goal of giving a new lease of life to the womenswear brand, whose new features are yet to be defined. Bismuth spoke to FashionNetwork.com immediately after the auction held in Vendeville, northern France, where he went with the firm intention of placing a winning bid.
FashionNetwork: How do you feel after your successful bid?
Sébastien Bismuth: I’m extremely satisfied. Today we have acquired the brand name -a registered trademark worldwide - of a retailer that for many years was the womenswear leader in France. It would have been a shame if it had disappeared. [Camaïeu] is a sister brand to Celio. We share the same positioning. We have demonstrated our abilities by successfully turning [Celio] around, and we will now be thinking about writing a new chapter for Camaïeu.
FNW: What are your plans for revitalising [Camaïeu]?
SB: It will not be the same [Camaïeu] as before: the brand will have to be better suited to today's market. Going digital is one of the solutions, but not the only one. Physical retail still has a key role to play. We’re looking at a blank page, since the burden that were the brand’s 600 stores, with their losses and debt, is gone.
FNW: When do you plan to market the first Camaïeu-branded products? Perhaps via Celio stores?
SB: Our strategy has not yet been finalised, it will take a little time still, but we believe that the turnaround will culminate in 2024. Camaïeu is fantastically well-known, [consumers have] an amazing connection with this brand. I believe [Camaïeu] was almost like family for her customers, and we can’t wait to tap its DNA again.
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