French label Carven on the verge of liquidation

The future of Carven is hanging by a thread. The French label, which went into receivership in May 2018, was counting on former Balmain CEO Emmanuel Diemoz to table a recovery plan at Paris' trade court. But the exec has bowed out, FashionNetwork.com has learned. While an agreement with the majority stakeholder of the label, Hong Kong group Bluebell, was not far off, the captain of the rescue mission finally decided to abandon ship.



Autumn 2018 pre-collection by Serge Ruffieux, creative director of the label since 2017 - Carven

Now, Carven has found itself on the edge of liquidation. For want of any possibility of putting forward a recovery plan with the current stakeholders and any potential reinforcements, the label's only alternative to a liquidation now is for a potential takeover candidate to proceed before the trade court. But there's not much time left -- the deadline for takeover offers is this Friday, 28 Sept., at midnight.

The court will then offer the possibility to improve on the tenders until Monday 1 Oct. at midnight, before settling on a proposal on 4 October. Those candidating to take over this heritage French house are thus invited to make themselves known as soon as possible, indicated the court-appointed liquidator, Abitbol & Rousselet.

According to information received by FashionNetwork.com, while there has been some new interest, as it stands there is only a single firm offer. It is the only one of the three tenders filed  in July at the first hearing that is still standing. It is led by Cashtex, a textile and leathergoods wholesaler, based at Sentier in Paris, and whose owning family, led by Henry and Daniel Levy, also heads the mid-range womenswear label LM Lulu and develops accessories under licence, such as bags for Jean-Louis Scherrer.

According to documents consulted by FashionNetwork.com this summer, the proposal offers to take over Carven’s brand names, trade names, licences and patents, as well as the leases, stock and employee contracts for the sum of €500,010. Cashtex intends to “relaunch the brand starting from a streamlined, more manageable organisation.” It would keep 50 jobs and reclassify another 39, and it forecasts a revenue of €15 million for the first year in business, reaching €20 million two years later, while remaining profitable.

The last given revenue for Carven stood at €21.5 million in 2017, but the account payable debt dropped €5.5 million. At the time of the label's last census in 2017, it employed 103 people, a workforce which will already have been reduced.

Carven, a French heritage label, was founded in 1945 by Carmen Tommaso, also known under the name 'Marie-Louise Carven'. The couture house saw several decades of success, before coming into a slump in the '80s and '90s. Since then, the house saw a succession of changes in its management and creative direction until 2008, when it underwent a takeover by its former licensees, driven notably by Henri Sebaoun. Carven l then enjoyed a period of renewed success thanks to the creative direction of Guillaume Henry and to the more accessible, less luxury repositioning of the label. In 2016, its Asian distribution partner Bluebell took a majority stake.

Two years later, the house is now urgently awaiting any indications as to its future, while the trade court awaits a firm and solid offer which would prevent the liquidation of the 73-year-old label.

 

Translated by Erin Floyd

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