By  on June 14, 2012

PARIS — French denim brand Marithé + François Girbaud said Thursday it has signed a 15-year licensing deal with Indian company Fibres & Fabrics International as part of an ongoing restructuring plan.

“This agreement will make it possible to maintain key manufacturing bases in Europe and Asia, to preserve know-how and to expand overall production capacity,” the Girbaud company said.

The brand, which earlier this year filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has been placed under observation by a commercial court until July 10.

FFI will become the worldwide master licensee, excluding countries and products already under license, Marithé + François Girbaud said.

The agreement takes effect with production of the autumn-winter 2012-2013 season and concerns the production and distribution of the men’s and women’s designer lines, which will continue to be produced at Marithé + François Girbaud’s facilities near Florence.

It also involves the production and the distribution of the Le Jean de Marithé + François Girbaud denim and casual line, which will be run from FFI’s office in Bangalore, southern India, and sourced globally. The agreement ends the French company’s previous joint venture, called GIR+A&F, with the Ferretti family, which controls Aeffe SpA.

FFI, a present or past supplier of labels such as G-Star and Hugo Boss, currently produces 10 million pieces a year and employs 10,000 people.

Speaking to WWD from India, Girbaud lauded FFI’s state-of-the-art facility, which boasts laser technology.

Marithé + François Girbaud last year mandated Banque Privée Edmond de Rothschild to open its capital to outside investors. The French brand has been losing steam since the global economic downturn, posting consolidated sales of 100 million euros, or $132.7 million at average exchange, in 2010. It employs about 160 people in France, but there could be job cuts as part of the restructuring plan, Girbaud said.

The agreement with FFI will allow the company to forge ahead with its retail expansion program, which includes the planned opening of a London store on New Bond Street in July, and 30 stores in China over the next three years, five of which have already opened.

“The reorganization and restructuring of the group currently under way will permit Marithé Bachellerie and François Girbaud to take over the entire control of their brand, to concentrate more exclusively on particular areas of their expertise and enable them to focus on design and communication activities as well as the retail development plan,” the company said.

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