Thursday, January 5, 2017

André, La Halle, Naf Naf : understanding the crisis in the apparel group Vivarte – The World

The trade unions of the group, who fear a plan to lay a massive, were “extremely disappointed” at the outcome of an appointment, on Thursday, at Bercy.

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This is not Alstom and the loss of a flagship industrial history, but the folder Vivarte may well invite in the political debates of the presidential election. The economic difficulties of the first French group of clothing and footwear were at the heart of a meeting held on Thursday 5 January at Bercy, with the unions in the wake of rumors of the sale of the historic brand André.

at the end of this appointment to the secretariat of State for industry, the trade unions, who fear that they plan to lay solid, expressed ” extremely disappointed “. the ” They share our findings, but don’t actually have the levers. They told us basically : we will not help you and good luck “, a summary Gérald Gautier (FO), which is expressed in the name of all the unions present.

they were seeking in particular to the government to put pressure on management to preserve the employment, in the light of state aid affected by the group (euro 40 million of CICE and relief of loads, according to FO). According to a spokesperson of the secretariat of State, the government has responded ” favourably “ to ” demand “ trade unions ” pass the message to their management and their shareholders, “, by promising to ” remember “ the necessity of a ” social dialogue copy and really transparent “.

  • 14 marks and 120-year history

The history of Vivarte dates back to the end of the XIXe century, with the opening of the first shoe store in Nancy, france in 1896. The brand cheap wins then Paris and then throughout France, and is expanding its activity in the clothing sector, by creating new brands (Hall, 1981) and by acquiring competitors.

If the name adopted in 2001 is not very evocative, the general public is familiar with its signs of shoes (André, Minelli, San Marina, Pataugas, Cosmoparis, La Halle aux chaussures, Besson, Merkal, Fosco) and clothing (La Halle, Naf Naf, Chevignon, Kookaï, Challenge Mode, Caroll…). Prior to his social plan, the group has more than 4,500 points of sales and employed a workforce of 17 000 employees.

  • A spiral of job losses and store closures

the First group of clothing French, Vivarte has not escaped the crisis in the sector. Its brands are facing a double competition : international groups, such as the Swedish H&M or the Spanish Zara, which multiply the collections and have a more modern image, and brands at low prices such as Kiabi, more competitive than The Hall, which was engaged in a risky strategy to move upmarket. The group has also missed the turn to the digital economy and online sales.

also Read : C & A, The Halle, Marks & Spencer… brands in traditional clothing are in crisis

The turnover of Vivarte collapsed in four years, from € 3.1 billion in 2011-2012 to $ 2.2 billion in 2015-2016. In the past two years, the bad news increased for the group’s employees :

  • a social plan was announced in April 2015, on 1 600 posts – 1 344 The Halle aux clothing, the flagship – and causing more than 200 store closings of the group ;
  • several brands have been put up for sale during the year 2016 : Challenge Mode and the Company vosges shoe (manufacturing plant) in January, Kookaï, Chevignon and Pataugas in June, and the shoemaker Spanish Merkel in September ;
  • a new wave of closures, a hundred shops of The Halle aux chaussures, has also been announced in September, 2016 ;
  • rumours of the sale of the brand André, announced by Europe 1 Wednesday, January 4, have been denied by Vivarte, but the historical brand of the group, which employs 750 workers, is in trouble with 10 million losses per year according to the trade unions ;
  • a new strategic plan should be presented in mid-January, with new job losses.

also Read : The employees of Vivarte want to be heard

  • A debt smothering

Vivarte has repeatedly been the victim of investment funds pursuing goals short-term : the bottom Atticus has taken control of the group in 2000, for the transfer to PAI Partners in 2004. The latter drove a “recovery” group (store closures, reduction of costs…) before to withdraw two years later to the benefit of the fund uk Charterhouse.

These acquisitions were financed by Leverage Buy Out (LBO), a financial package consisting of buying a business with very little capital and lots of debt, and then to place the burden of the debt on the company itself. Result, in 2014, Vivarte found themselves with a colossal debt of € 2.8 billion, almost as much as its annual turnover.

also Read : Vivarte : not to die healed

In October 2014, the president and CEO, Marc Lelandais, is able to restructure this debt, “erasing” 2 billion euros to give a breath of fresh air to the company… but this respite was of short duration. In fact, the four funds specialized british (Alcentra, Babson, GoldenTree and Oaktree) have taken over 800 million euros of debt by granting a loan of 500 million, the company must repay with exorbitant interest of 11 %. Two years after, the total debt exceeds € 1.5 billion. A new procedure was launched in July in order to restructure again the debt.

Read also : Vivarte once again struggling with its debt

The difficulties of financial and commercial Vivarte have been augmented in recent years by instability at the head of the company, with a record of five CEOS in five years : after the departure of Georges Plassat in 2012, a first boss, Antoine Metzger, stayed only four months in place ; the next, Marc Lelandais, has placed a lot of energy in the negotiation of the debt prior to being landed in October 2014 for the benefit of Richard Simonin, who has endorsed the social plan. The former leader of Monoprix, Stéphane Maquaire, called reinforcement, in February 2016, has proposed a strategic vision of long-term, but the shareholders of the company – who are also its creditors – was quickly ousted eight months later.

The profile of the new CEO, Patrick Puy, announces the color : it specialist in companies in difficulty has orchestrated the restructuring of Moulinex (4 000 job losses in 2000), Arc international (400 posts deleted), Nirs or TDF. In an interview with Capital, he explains unequivocally that he was a ” a commando mission of less than one year “ to restructure a group, and that it must be ” forget the states of the soul “.

Read also : Vivarte : the “table of hunting” the new boss worried about the employees


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