PARIS — The new owners of French retail group Vivarte have ousted Marc Lelandais as chairman and chief executive officer and replaced him with Richard Simonin, effective immediately.
Lelandais was widely expected to leave after the group’s financial restructuring, which was officially completed on Wednesday, transferring ownership from Charterhouse Capital Partners to a group of lenders led by four funds: Oaktree, Alcentra, GoldenTree and Babson.
Vivarte’s creditors agreed in July to cut its debt by 2 billion euros, or $2.5 billion at current exchange, and inject new money amounting to 500 million euros, or $636 million.
“The board and Mr. Lelandais did not reach an agreement on the future direction to be given to the group,” Vivarte said on Thursday.
“The new shareholders nevertheless want to thank him and congratulate him for his success in the financial restructuring of the group, achieved in an unusually short time in 2014 under his leadership and in the interest of the 22,000 employees,” it added.
Lelandais joined the apparel and footwear specialist, whose stable of brands includes Caroll, Naf Naf, Kookaï, Chevignon, André, Minelli and Cosmoparis, two years ago and had been battling a morose economic climate with an all-out push to renovate and reinvigorate its key banners.
Simonin, who has worked at Harrods, La Redoute, Etam and Escada, was recently appointed deputy chief operating officer at Vivarte and was widely seen as a candidate to succeed Lelandais.
“His experience and his perfect knowledge of Vivarte’s businesses will allow him to follow suit on the deep modernization and transformation work initiated two years ago,” Vivarte said.
In a separate statement, the new owners set out their priorities and detailed the membership of the new board of directors appointed on Thursday.
“As longstanding creditors of the company, the anchor investors have been maintaining supportive relations with Vivarte and are now firmly committed to succeed in restoring the strength of its commercial franchise and further improving its operations. Priority will be given to operational profitability while leveraging on Vivarte’s strong basics to adjust to the fast changing retail environment,” they said.
Joining Simonin on the board are Pierre Trotot, general manager; Kevin Lennon, representing Alcentra Flandre Limited; Stuart Mathieson, representing Babson Flandre Limited; Christian Pimont, representing GoldenTree Vivarte Governance SCS; Donald Bryden, representing Oaktree Luxembourg Flandre Anchor Sàrl; Christine Mondollot, designated by Alcentra; Georges Spitzer, designated by Oaktree, and Patrick Woodall.