PARIS — Qatari-backed investment fund Divine Investments SA, or Disa, said Wednesday that it has completed its acquisition of French retailer Printemps.
The Luxembourg-based company, held by private investors, has acquired a 70 percent stake from Deutsche Bank’s RREEF and the remaining 30 percent from Italy’s Borletti Group. The planned deal was originally revealed in February.
The transaction was greenlighted by France’s Competition Authority on July 22, Disa said.
“Divine Investments plans to continue the development of the Printemps Group both in Paris and in the rest of France and to contribute to the international development of this symbol of French fashion and luxury,” the firm added.
RREEF Real Estate, which was recently rechristened Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, or DeAWM, bought Printemps in a joint venture with Borletti Group in October 2006 from Kering, the conglomerate then known as PPR, and launched a wide-ranging program of renovations destined to position it as a luxury retailer.
Gianluca Muzzi, head of real estate, Europe (ex-Germany) at DeAWM, said, “The sale of Printemps marks one of the largest and most high-profile transactions in the French market. The multifaceted aspects of this investment demonstrate the depth of our real estate team’s transaction and asset management expertise.”
Pierre Cherki, head of alternatives and real assets, which includes the real estate business, added, “This transaction is a testament to the strength of our global platform and our commitment to sourcing compelling deals and optimizing returns on investment on behalf of our clients.”
Neither officials from Disa nor Printemps were available for further comment, according to their spokespeople. Officials at Borletti Group could not be reached, nor could Bernard Demarcq, secretary general of the UGICT-CGT labor union, which opposed the sale.
Printemps chief executive officer Paolo de Cesare, who is due to remain in place, said in May the new owners have backed a five-year expansion plan, worth 270 million euros, or $346 million, which is expected to create 500 jobs. The retailer plans to open three Printemps stores, in addition to two units for its urban apparel chain Citadium, in the next few years.
The management of the French department store chain also sought to quell union opposition by unveiling a series of measures designed to reassure its staff and pave the way for the transaction. De Cesare said the Qatari investors have pledged not to cut any jobs for two years, putting to rest union fears that the change in ownership will result in several hundred layoffs. Printemps also offered a pay increase of 3 percent this summer as part of its annual salary negotiations with staff.
Labor representatives had criticized the financial conditions of the deal as opaque and called for the public prosecutor to launch a probe into the transaction.
Printemps posted sales of 1.5 billion euros, or $1.95 billion, between April 2012 and March 2013, up 5.7 percent year-on-year. It has forecast revenues will hit the symbolic threshold of 2 billion euros, or $2.65 billion at current exchange, by 2017.
Dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
Revenues for the 2012-13 financial year were fueled by the Paris flagship on Boulevard Haussmann, which posted a 14 percent rise thanks to the strong growth of sales to foreign visitors. Sales in the chain’s regional stores decreased by 3.2 percent, due in part to renovations in Strasbourg, Toulon and Rennes.
De Cesare said Printemps is targeting sales growth of 6 to 7 percent for the current financial year. It is banking on the positive impact of recent renovations to its fashion floors at the Haussmann flagship, and a strong sales start at the store it plans to open in the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris in February 2014.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
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Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast