PARIS — Carven is maintaining its plans for expansion in the wake of the departure of its creative director Guillaume Henry, chief executive officer Henri Sebaoun said.
“We are going to carry on with our development in terms of store openings and segments, because our strategy is already set,” Sebaoun told WWD after confirming that the Carven show on Thursday marked Henry’s swan song after five years at the helm.
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According to market sources, he is seen as a frontrunner to take up the design helm at Nina Ricci. WWD broke the story Sept. 12 that Oscar de la Renta is close to signing Ricci’s current creative director, Peter Copping, in a lead design role, triggering another round of musical chairs in French fashion.
Sebaoun said Henry would remain in his post until the end of November and he was in talks with several potential successors.
“Carven is a creative brand. My main objective when I bought Carven was to bring it back to the forefront of fashion by setting trends. I think we have accomplished that over the last five years. The idea is to keep up that ambition, so naturally we will be recruiting a new artistic director to represent the house,” he said.
“For the time being, I am in discussions. I don’t want to confuse speed and haste,” Sebaoun added.
Carven earlier this year opened its third women’s store in Paris, part of a growth plan that should see about 10 new units open this year in locations including Cannes, France; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beijing, China; Singapore and Manila.
The brand has been looking to secure financing for its expansion plans, which include the launch this fall of its first fully fledged handbag lines with a dedicated advertising campaign. Sebaoun denied market talk that the delay in securing fresh working capital had forced him to scale back some of his projects.
“It’s false,” he said. “We have our shareholders’ trust. We have no intention whatsoever of slowing down our development.”
Turenne Capital in 2008 invested 5.8 million euros, or $8.5 million, in Société Béranger to help fund its purchase of Carven, through various funds including Turenne Investissement, which last year adjusted the value of its stake to reflect the brand’s positive growth prospects. Sebaoun is also ceo of Société Béranger.
He paid tribute to Henry, who is credited with catapulting Carven back onto the fashion radar and giving it a youthful élan.
“I was very happy to work with Guillaume for practically six years. We accomplished great things together and today, one chapter is closing and a new adventure is beginning for Carven. I hope that, for his part, he will know as much joy as he has known by my side,” Sebaoun said.