French label Bruno Saint Hilaire goes into liquidation
French men's and women’s ready-to-wear label Bruno Saint Hilaire, founded in 1973, already had to weather storms in the past, the 2010s for example, when it managed to extricate itself from a protection procedure. But there will be no happy outcome this time. FashionNetwork.com has in fact learned that the trade court in Toulouse, France, ruled at the end of November that the company is to be liquidated.
Positioned as a mid-market label, Bruno Saint Hilaire filed for receivership in the face of worsening losses last summer, and has been looking for a buyer ever since. Clearly, the court received no acquisition bid by the latest deadline, which was pushed back to the end of November, signalling the end of the journey for the 85 employees of the label, which is based in Balma, south-west France.
It is now down to the liquidators to oversee the sale of the company's assets, consisting of 20 directly owned stores in France (while its nearly 20 franchisees will have to start looking for a new master franchisor), as well as its inventory, the archives and the rights to the Bruno Saint Hilaire brand name.
Business for the ready-to-wear label, notably a trousers and crease-resistant suits specialist, had shrunk by half in the last decade, eventually reaching a revenue of €18 million last year. Revenue was then actually on the rise, though it was driven only by openings of stores bought from other chains that had been liquidated: seven of them from Voodoo and 14 from Sym. At the same time, losses had worsened, up to an estimated €5 million.
In 2017, Bruno Saint Hilaire was sold by the Activa Capital investment fund to its two top executives, Fabrice Dorr, CEO since 2012, and deputy CEO Vincent Lefebvre. They tried to revive the label by opening new stores in mid-sized towns, but met with no success. As well as by 20 directly owned stores and some 20 franchisees, the label was distributed by about 600 multibrand retailers.
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