Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

The women's ready-to-wear brand Camaïeu asks to be placed in receivership

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, July 28th 2022 à 15:50 | Read 617 times

CamaIeu has 511 shops (photo: HP&B)
CamaIeu has 511 shops (photo: HP&B)
FRANCE. Camaïeu declared itself in suspension of payment on Monday 15 July 2022 and requested, on Wednesday 27 July 2022, that it be placed in receivership with a continuation plan from the Lille Commercial Court. The court will examine the case on Monday 1 August 2022. "Camaieu's request is motivated by an acceleration of the company's difficulties and more particularly by the consequences (of a ruling by the Court of Cassation, dated 30 June), refusing to allow shopkeepers to reduce their rents during the covid period," its management said in a message sent to Agence France Presse (AFP).

511 of the 634 shops in France and 2,600 of the 3,100 employees were taken over two years ago by Financière immobilière de Bordeaux (FIB), owned by Michel Ohayon. It had entrusted its subsidiary Aciam with the management of the women's ready-to-wear store based in Roubaix (Nord) and created in 1984 by Jean-Pierre Torck, Éric Vandendriessche, Jean Duforest and Dominique Debruyne (all ex-Mulliez, parent company of Auchan). At the time, the FIB envisaged, thanks to a transformation plan and "in-depth work on the brand and the offer", a balance of the company's accounts in two years with the objective of returning to the pre-pandemic turnover of 2019 by 2023. Supplies had thus been refocused on Turkey and North Africa, with Asia now accounting for only 40% of imports compared to 90% before. In 2021, Camaïeu achieved a turnover of €333 million (over sixteen months) compared to €570 million at the end of March 2020 (over 12 months) and €620 million in 2019.

Non-payment of rent

After its takeover, the company had to deal with declines in turnover due to the Covid-19 and the administrative closure of its units. In June 2021, it even suffered a cyber-attack that prevented it from delivering to its shops for four months and resulted in a loss of €40 million. Camaïeu was no longer able to pay the rent for almost half of its 517 shops in France. Some landlords of large shopping centres have accepted payment delays or reductions, others have gone to court.

"For months the CGT has been taking action to denounce the strategy of the management and the shareholder in choosing not to pay the lessors (several hundred procedures), the court of cassation has decided, the companies will have to pay", confirmed Thierry Siwik, a delegate of the union. For its part, the management asserts that its request is aimed at "preserving the company's long-term future".

The northern company had already been placed in receivership at the end of May 2020 by the commercial court of Lille. Faced with a debt of nearly €250 million and the rejection of its application for a State Guaranteed Loan (PGE) - launched to support the economic consequences of Covid-19 - its managers had no other solution.

Before this episode, concluded by the arrival of the Financière immobilière de Bordeaux at the helm since August 2020, Camaïeu's difficulties had forced the company to close more than 800 shops worldwide following a 95% drop in turnover.

In two years, the FIB (which already owned 24 Galeries Lafayette in the provinces) has bought, via its subsidiary Hermione People and Brands (HP&B), Grande Récré, Gap France, Go Sport and Cafés Legal.

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