Carven receives offers from three potential buyers but is not ruling out other options
How will Carven get out of its dire financial straits? The Parisian fashion house had to wait until July 9th to hear back from Paris' tribunal de commerce about the takeover bids that had been submitted. Having been forced to file for bankruptcy while it searches for a viable solution to its financial woes, the company currently has two options: raising capital through new investors who could finance a turnaround plan, or a takeover. And there are three candidates who have come forward in the case of the latter.
Three takeover dossiers have therefore been submitted to the Parisian court, one of which has been put together by a group that should be familiar to Carven. Indeed, according to information obtained by FashionNetwork.com, the Bogart Group has come forward as a potential buyer. The beauty and fragrance group has a portfolio including both company-owned brands such as Bogart, Ted Lapidus, Jeanne Piaubert and April – a retail chain boasting 160 points of sale in France, Germany and Israel –, and a number of perfume licences. The Bogart Group has held the rights to produce Carven's fragrances and cosmetics since 2010 when it acquired them for 2 million euros.
The brand is an important label in the group's portfolio, accounting for 5 million euros of the approximately 30 million that the company makes through its fragrance business, a considerable chunk of the group's total revenue of around 130 million euros in 2017. It's understandable, then, that Bogart would want to preserve this revenue stream, but the company may also be looking to develop the brand through a wider relaunch.
Although the group did not respond to our requests for further details concerning what its project for Carven might be, Bogart does have previous form in the fashion industry. The company owned Balenciaga from 1986 to 2001, when it sold the Spanish brand to Gucci. Bogart has also held Ted Lapidus since 1998 and has consistently driven the fashion brand's development, albeit externally through licensing.
The offer put forward for Carven by Jacques Konckier will now be examined by the court before the next hearing, scheduled for the end of July, but will not be the only proposal under consideration. According to information made available to FashionNetwork.com, two other dossiers have been submitted, one from Paris-based wholesale leather and textiles distributor Cashtex. The family who own the company also run mid-range womenswear brand LM Lulu and produce accessories under license for brands including Jean-Louis Scherrer. The third offer comes from a name that has already cropped up among the takeover dossiers presented to the court on previous occasions. The final candidate, Philippe Métivier, proposed a partial takeover of affordable womenswear retailer Mim when the company experienced financial hardships in 2016 but quite what the scope of the businessman's operations might be is not widely known.
These three dossiers, the contents of which will not be revealed until the court's next hearing, represent the candidates for a total or partial takeover of Carven, but the company's receiver is also searching elsewhere for an alternative solution. As pointed out a few weeks ago, another option may be possible if new investors who could finance a turnaround plan can be found. News on this front is currently scarce, though, guarded with the utmost discretion as possible shareholder conditions are negotiated.
For the moment, Hong Kong-based investment fund Bluebell, the intentions of which are still unclear, holds two thirds of the company's shares, while Henri Sebaoun, Carven's former owner who sold the brand in 2016, remains a minority shareholder. A new investor could therefore help the fashion house get back on its feet and initiate a turnaround plan currently being thrashed out by the company's incumbent management team and president Sophie de Rougement. Some measures have already been taken, such as the discontinuation of the brand's menswear line in 2016, while Serge Ruffieux has been on a mission to revive the house's creative vision – still heavily influenced by the heady days of Guillaume Henry – since his appointment in 2017.
Founded in 1945 by Marie-Louise Carven, the brand managed to reposition itself within the high-end fashion segment over the last ten years. The Parisian house is now desperately seeking a partner or a buyer with the financial clout to ensure its future, a search which will conclude before the end of August, at the very latest.
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