PARIS — The board of directors of Vivarte has ousted chief executive officer Stéphane Maquaire — who last month presented a five-year recovery plan for the ailing French retail group — and replaced him with turnaround expert Patrick Puy, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The group’s fourth ceo in as many years, Puy arrives in the midst of attempts by Vivarte to restructure its debt of 1.5 billion euros, or $1.64 billion at current exchange rates. Complicating these efforts is the fact that its key lenders are also owners of Vivarte, parent company of brands including Caroll, Naf Naf, André and Kookaï.
Following a major debt restructuring in 2014, majority ownership of the group switched from Charterhouse Capital Partners to a group of lenders led by four funds: Oaktree, Alcentra, GoldenTree and Babson. Since then, GLG Partners has replaced GoldenTree.
The company’s board of directors voted by majority on Thursday to oust Maquaire, formerly ceo of Monoprix, after just six months in the job, prompting to resign from his mandates as independent administrator and president of the board in protest, the sources said.
Maquaire had been behind Vivarte’s recent decision to appoint Hélène Bourbouloux as the ad hoc agent to renegotiate its debt. As part of its recovery plan, he proposed to offload the group’s Spanish shoe chain Merkal and review the store network for its La Halle retail banner by merging some stores.
The executive had set the estimated budget for the plan, which was to involve the reviewing of platforms and modernization of stores, at 500 million euros, or $545 million.
Battered by a volatile retail climate, Vivarte, whose cradle of more than 20 brands and retail banners also includes Chevignon for fashion and the footwear names Cosmoparis and Pataugas, in 2015 was forced to lay off 1,481 employees at its various chains.