x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Fashion coup ruling adjourned

UAE cargo carrier was member of an original attempt to take over haute couture designer Christian Lacroix.

The Christian Lacroix fashion house has failed to turn a profit since its founding in 1986.
The Christian Lacroix fashion house has failed to turn a profit since its founding in 1986.

A Paris commercial court's decision on whether to approve a takevoer bid for Christian Lacroix by a member of the ruling family of Ajman was adjourned Tuesday. Earlier, it was revealed another UAE company had joined an original bid for the ailing French fashion house. Midex Airlines, the UAE cargo carrier, joined the bid by Bernard Krief Consulting valued at ?100 million (Dh546.6m) for Christian Lacroix, said Issam Khairallah, the president of the company based in Abu Dhabi.

"Christian Lacroix is a famous French designer and we believe that it should not die," said Mr Khairallah, who is also the owner of Midex. He declined to confirm the size of the investment but Vincent de Mauny, the managing director of distribution for Bernard Krief who worked on the Christian Lacroix bid, said Midex invested ?12m. "We bid in our own name but we have their support," Mr de Mauny said Tuesday. Sheikh Hassan bin Ali Al Nuaimi, a nephew of Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, the Ruler of Ajman, formalised his bid for Christian Lacroix on October 8, but the case needed to go through the Paris Commercial Court for approval, a standard procedure for such bids. The bid will return to the court on December 1, according to Regis Valliot, Christian Lacroix's court-appointed adminisrator. Sheikh Hassan would not confirm the final value of the bid because the figure was yet to be decided through negotiations with its owners, the Falic Group, based in Florida, but the amount is reported to be about ?70m. "Christian Lacroix is the lord of the fashion industry," Sheikh Hassan said, adding he hoped to make Mr Lacroix successful as a businessman as well as a designer. Despite its high profile, the Christian Lacroix fashion house has failed to make a profit since it was founded in 1986 by Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of the luxury retail conglomerate LVMH. In 2005, it was sold to the US duty-free retailer the Falic Group. Sales of its luxury goods were further hit by the economic downturn, and the company filed for bankruptcy protection in June this year. Bids for Christian Lacroix were submitted by the investment group Bernard Krief Consulting, based in Paris; La Financiere Saint Germain; and later by Sheikh Hassan. The Borletti Group had also submitted an offer, but has since withdrawn its bid. But Mr Valliot said some bidders were struggling to finance their bids due to liquidity problems. It could take another two or three weeks for bidders to prove they have access to the money necessary to make the deal, Mr Valliot said, or the court could choose the Falic Group's "continuation" plan. Under that plan, the Falic Group would pay its debts by developing licensing, Mr de Mauny said. But Mr Valliot has said Sheikh Hassan's bid was the best offer because of his plan to expand the brand beyond high-end clothing to yachts and luxury homes. Sheikh Hassan said he formerly owned a boat making company in Ajman called Seaspray, which made high-quality crafts, giving him the expertise to take the Christian Lacroix brand in that direction. Despite the tough market for luxury goods, there is still a growing number of wealthy people around the world that could be attracted to the fashion house, he said. "A lot of wealth is available and they are looking for something unique, which nobody else has. And that is what we offer." Leon Falic, the president of the Falic Group that is selling the French couturier, has said Sheikh Hassan's bid also stood out because his plans included keeping both the haute couture and ready to wear lines, as well as keeping all of Christian Lacroix's 125 employees on staff. aligaya@thenational.ae