Merkal shoes

PARIS — Vivarte said on Thursday its 2017 results were encouraging, despite an annual net loss of 305 million euros, as the French retailer forges ahead with a broad overhaul.

The owner of brands including Caroll, Minelli and La Halle had posted a net loss of 672 million euros in 2016.

Vivarte said earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortization reached 84 million euros, posting an increase for the first time in six years. Sales for the year totaled 1.8 billion euros, the bulk of which came from its star brand, the inexpensive shoe and clothing retailer La Halle.

“Vivarte is back on track,” said chief executive officer Patrick Puy, adding that growth and profitability were once again achievable goals.

Vivarte has in recent months shed a number of brands. The company restructured its debt in June, and last year kicked off sale processes for the André and Pataugas shoe brands in May, the apparel brand Kookaï in July, and the Spanish shoe brand Merkal Calzados in November. The company has indicated that Naf Naf is on the block as well.

Unions will be informed of the names of the buyers for Naf Naf and André this week, Puy said on French radio channel Radio Classique on Thursday.

The executive also said that he is kicking off a sale process for the shoe brand Besson, because it competes with La Halle. The company has not found a suitable buyer for its French apparel brand Chevignon, however, so it plans to restructure the business by cutting back on physical stores and boosting internet sales, he added.

Through the restructuring process, the company has scaled back from around 16 brands to around seven, Puy added, saying the company had “too many brands because we were too arrogant.”

Vivarte was thrust into the political spotlight during the country’s presidential elections last year, as politicians called for protectionist measures to protect jobs at the ailing conglomerate.

In the earnings statement, the retailer said it is expanding in France and Switzerland and opened 17 new stores between September and November last year. It has an investment budget of 80 million euros this year, as it concentrates on its pared-down group of brands.

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