WASHINGTON -- The company that acquired Paris couture house Per Spook in October 1991 has decided to cut off funding to the money-losing enterprise.
"Financially, it simply wasn't performing. There definitely were losses, and there definitely were continuous losses," said David Braus, general counsel and a member of the board of Haifinance Corp., a venture capital and investment firm based in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner, Va.
As reported last week, the fashion house canceled its couture runway show that was scheduled for July 20.
Braus said he couldn't forecast what will happen to Per Spook or its boutique operations on Avenue Montaigne in Paris.
"It's in the hands of those who want to maximize its assets," Braus said, noting that under the firm's Paris management, the boutique operations remain open, selling Per Spook's latest collections. He would not elaborate.
Per Spook, named after its designer, opened in 1977 after Spook worked in the design studio of Louis Feraud.
Braus said Haifinance has invested "in excess" of $26.7 million (145 million francs at current exchange) into the business. He said he did not have a copy of Per Spook's financial statements available to quote the losses. A report on the French news service Agence France Presse listed Spook's losses last year as totaling around $8.3 million (45 million francs), on sales of $1.7 million (9 million francs).
"We've pumped a significant amount of capital into the company," Braus said. "There just comes a point business-wise when you have to call it a day."
When investing in Per Spook, Braus said Haifinance was counting on the couture operation branching into ready-to-wear and licensing. The ready-to-wear was introduced last year. The licensing plans were shot down after Haifinance was unable to recover the Per Spook master license for Asia from Japan's Itokin, which acquired it in 1989.
Reacquiring the master license "proved to be impossible," Braus said, terming the deal "absolutely critical" to the investment.
While Haifinance's business isn't restricted to fashion, its other investments in the industry include interests in Snowrunner, a ski apparel company based in Minneapolis; California designer Isda & Co., a bridge-level firm, and Platinum sportswear, a Bill Blass licensee.
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