Sonia Rykiel’s acquisition bids to be submitted to Paris court by May 31
today May 3, 2019
The forthcoming weeks will be decisive for the future of Parisian label Sonia Rykiel. On Tuesday April 30, the label filed for receivership with the Paris trade court in a last-ditch attempt to find a buyer, after its owner since 2012, the First Heritage Brands group, which also owns Clergerie and Delvaux, finally threw in the towel. And now time is running out for Sonia Rykiel, founded in 1968 by the famous eponymous designer. FashionNetwork.com has in fact learnt that the court has fixed May 31 as the deadline for submitting acquisition bids for the label.
It is now clear that the label has sufficient funds to continue operating until the end of June only. In 2018, Sonia Rykiel generated a revenue of €32 million - less than half the revenue produced in 2012. The label and its subsidiaries have 178 employees, of which about 150 work at its Paris headquarters. The US subsidiary closed down last month, and since then the label’s stores in the USA and in the UK have been closed too. As of today, Sonia Rykiel still operates 15 monobrand stores, and it serves another 200 multibrand retailers worldwide.
First Heritage Brands, the group which bought Sonia Rykiel in 2012, was founded by the Fung family with Jean-Marc Loubier, the group’s director, and Singaporean investment fund Temasek. It made many attempts at relaunching the label, by restructuring the organisation in 2016, then pouring funds into its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2018 (the group has reportedly invested a total of €200 million since 2012 in Sonia Rykiel). It is now a case of finding a new owner to inject fresh impetus into this long-established brand.
The label, rooted in the Parisian district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, was perfectly embodied by its flamboyant founder Sonia Rykiel, who passed away in 2016. From the start of this year, many fashion industry players have expressed an interest in acquiring Sonia Rykiel, though no concrete bid has been put forward so far. First Heritage Brands has been looking for a new owner for many months, and has now put the issue in the hands of the court, hoping for a positive outcome. It could come from an investment fund, an entrepreneur, or a combination of the two.
The mission has been entrusted to two court-appointed receivers, Hélène Bourbouloux and Joanna Rousselet, who will prioritise a bid at once financially robust and offering assurances in terms of employment protection.
Sonia Rykiel’s employees and aficionados now fear that, should no satisfactory bid emerge, the label’s business will be liquidated in the summer, and the brand name only will be up for sale.
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