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Porthault’s New Owner Plans Expansion

French entrepreneur Bernard Djian is looking to invest $5.5 million in the luxury linens firm.

PARIS — The new owner of French luxury linens firm D. Porthault says he plans to invest 4.5 million euros, or $5.5 million at current exchange, over the next four years to turn around the brand, which struggled for several years before being liquidated in April.

This story first appeared in the July 12, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

French entrepreneur Bertrand Djian said he had taken over the firm in partnership with French real estate developer BlueStone Group, though he declined to detail the terms of their association.

This contradicts earlier information provided by Joan and Bernard Carl, the owners of the parent holding company of Société Nouvelle D. Porthault Inc., who retain the rights to the D. Porthault brand and designs in the U.S. and a number of other markets.

They said Djian had partnered with Jean-Patrick Canivet, the former president of the firm’s French subsidiary. The couple plan to file lawsuits in the U.S., the U.K. and France “concerning the qualifications of the winning syndicate, the respective rights of the companies in certain secondary markets and the apparent misfeasance of the former executives participating in the syndicate during and immediately following their tenure at the French subsidiary.”

Djian said an audit would determine the owner of the rights to the D. Porthault brands in different markets, but he would forge ahead with plans to grow the company. This includes keeping on 71 people, out of a total staff of just over 80.

“As far as I am concerned, I am now at the head of this firm which I will run as I see fit. If [Mr. Carl] wants to sue the entire planet, that’s his problem. I harbor absolutely no aggressive feelings towards him. On the contrary, I hope we can meet, since he is in charge of the Porthault brand for the United States, and it would be great if we could develop that business,” Djian said.

The executive said he had a background in fashion that included launching the Per Spook brand in the Eighties, and bringing British men’s wear label Hackett to France. His plan for Porthault includes reviving the brand’s hotel business and launching a new store concept in Paris, which — if successful — would provide a model for international expansion.