PARIS — On the eve of the Première Vision Paris textiles trade show, which begins here Tuesday, the future looks uncertain for longtime exhibitor Lucien Noyon, the world’s number-one producer of Calais Lace.
The beleaguered company — also known as Noyon Calais — has filed for the French equivalent of Chapter 11 at the Boulogne-sur-Mer business court, Olivier Noyon, president of Groupe Noyon, confirmed. The firm, which has 240 employees, has been granted a turnaround period of six months. This is its second such filing in six years.
A specialist in lace for the lingerie and corsetry sector, the company has been hit by a sharp drop in order volumes, primarily from its luxury clients, Noyon said. Sales last year fell 15.3 percent to 15.5 million euros, or $17.2 million at average exchange, with a further drop of 10 percent expected for 2016, he added.
Seeking growth opportunities, the company recently switched its focus to supplying lace for dresses for the couture and ready-to-wear sectors, traditionally a specialty of Darquer, also part of Groupe Noyon’s portfolio, and the oldest manufacturer of Calais and Caudry lace.
“The lingerie market has seen a major shakeup of its traditional distribution channels with the arrival of the specialist lingerie chains and growing presence of online competitors,” Noyon said. “We will continue to improve our mix over the coming months with a view to getting our global profitability back on track.”
Along with Desseilles and Codentel, Lucien Noyon is one of the 11 remaining industrial lacemakers based in the neighboring towns of Calais and Caudry in northern France.
Groupe Noyon was founded by Noyon’s grandfather, Lucien Noyon, in 1919, himself the successor of Gustave Noyon and heir to a long line of lacemakers, manufacturers and mechanics.
Times are delicate for France’s embattled lace industry, which at one point employed some 20,000 people. But there’s hope. With a view to perpetuating and developing the sector, French lacemaker Sophie Hallette’s parent company Groupe Holesco, in which Chanel recently took a minor investment, in April won the bidding to acquire Codentel, an ailing industrial lacemaker that entered receivership in December 2015. Holesco went on to acquire 100 percent of fellow French firm Dentelles MC in August. Meanwhile, in March, textile and apparel producer Hangzhou Yongsheng Group acquired Desseilles, saving it from closure.