Merkal shoes

PARIS — Forging ahead with its restructuring project, French fashion group Vivarte has entered exclusive talks to sell the shoe brand Besson Chaussures to Weinberg Capital Partners and Groupe Philippe Ginestet, investment vehicles associated with two high-profile French businessmen.

In January, Vivarte chief executive officer Patrick Puy flagged his intentions to sell the shoe brand, noting it competes with La Halle, another low-price label belonging to the group.

Besson, which was founded in the Eighties, has belonged to Vivarte for two decades and generated 264 million euros in revenues last year selling nearly 13 million pairs of shoes. Models sold by the brand include cork-soled sandals in suede and metallic leather at cut-rate prices.

With the impending sale of Besson, Vivarte will be structured around five brands, the right size to allow the company to invest in their growth, in the company’s view, according to its statement.

Remaining in the group are the urban shoe brands Minelli, San Marina and Cosmoparis; La Halle shoes for the suburbs and ready-to-wear apparel label Caroll. Nearly two-thirds of the company’s network of 3,000 stores are in France.

Weinberg Capital Partners belongs to Serge Weinberg, an important figure in the French corporate world who has held board positions on a number of companies and stepped in to run the pharmaceutical giant Sanofi following the ouster of its ceo. His asset management company invests in real estate and small, listed companies in France as well as leveraged buyouts.

Discount baron Philippe Ginestet owns French chains Gifi and Tati, a fabric retailer.

Vivarte in January announced the sale of its apparel brand Naf Naf to a consortium led by Chinese multibrand fashion company La Chapelle & Co. that included private-equity fund Star Platinum Capital and East Links International, a provider of financial and investment services to Chinese companies.

In November, Vivarte sold its Spanish shoe brand Merkal Calzados to private-equity company OpCapita.

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