On March 3, Desseilles, which supplies lace to brands including Chantelle, Lise Charmel, La Perla and Chinese brand Aimer, was given three weeks by the commercial tribunal in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, before being placed into liquidation. Codentel entered receivership in December, and is likely to be placed in liquidation within the next few weeks.
Before the new March 15 deadline specified by the commercial court for Desseilles takeover offers, Sophie Hallette parent company Groupe Holesco said it would invest a total of 1.7 million euros, or $1.9 million at current exchange, in both entities, maintain the activity in Calais and preserve jobs with key know-how.
“I want to offer continuity to both companies. It’s a new challenge, while the arrival of foreign investors is jeopardizing a quasi artisan-based industry,” Sophie Hallette chief executive officer Romain Lescroart said.
Lescroart was referring to a letter of intent on March 1 from a listed Chinese firm that wishes to acquire Desseilles once it has been liquidated. The Chinese firm’s offer is dependent on not reintegrating three former unionized employees dismissed for economic reasons in 2013, leading to a deadlock.
“I am in favor of the Chinese firm’s offer,” said Deseilles president Jean-Louis Dussart, one of three former managers who acquired Desseilles in partnership with fellow lacemakers Solstiss and Bracq in 2011. “My understanding is that Sophie Hallette’s takeover offer includes 37 jobs, out of 74 employees, plus the reintegration of the three former employees,” he told WWD.
By comparison, the Chinese firm would keep 15 additional jobs, and invest more, according to him. “To me, Sophie Hallette doesn’t have a development plan. They’re in a position of defense. They’re looking to protect themselves from the arrival of the Chinese on the market,” he added.
“We want to offer an alternative that is 100 percent French,” Lescroart said.
The next court hearing for the future on Desseilles is due on March 23.