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Financial Misfortunes Infecting International Retail

From financial misfortunes to an operational misfire, some international retailers have fallen on hard times.

France’s Camaïeu is getting its third lease on life with the help of Sébastien Bismuth, president of French men’s wear chain Celio. And U.K. budget fashion retailer M&Co collapsed into administration last week for the second time in two years while Australian online luxury furniture and home decor retailer Brosa also entered into administration this week.

Celio cashes in on Camaïeu

Celio now controls the trademarks of bankrupt women’s fashion chain Camaïeu after its 1.8 million euros ($1.91 million) bid came out on top at a court auction.

Founded in 1984, the women’s fashion chain entered receivership in August. A French commercial court in Lille forced Camaïeu to liquidate in September in a process that closed all 508 shops and put 2,600 people out of jobs. The portfolio of Camaïeu’s parent Hermione People & Brand (HPB), the retail arm of commercial real estate and distribution firm FIB Group (Financière Immobilière Bordelaise), includes La Grand Récré, Gap France and GO Sport. HPB was chosen to take over Camaïeu in 2020 following the fashion chain’s first bankruptcy filing that May.

Bismuth, Celio’s president, is no stranger to overhauling brands on life support. He acquired teen brand Jennyfer in 2018 with other investors and has since relaunched as Don’t Call Me Jennyfer. He also turned around Celio, taking over as chairperson of the board and helping it exit bankruptcy in October last yearr. The men’s wear retailer’s job protection plan in June 2020 closed 102 stores and terminated 383 jobs. Celio’s restructuring plan called for revenue of 500 million euros in 2021 on flat earnings and a projection for profitability in 2022.

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With Camaïeu’s operations fully shut down, Celio has a clean slate to work with. It could revive the women’s wear label in an online-only format. Store openings could be a part of its future, depending on consumer reception.

M&Co Trading Limited enters administration

British budget family fashion chain M&Co collapsed into administration on Friday.

An M&Co. store in Uttoxeter, England. Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

According to the company’s website, joint administrators Adele MacLeod, Gavin George Scott Park and Robert James Harding of Teneo Financial Advisory Limited are considering selling the challenged chain.

The seller of men’s, women’s and kids’ fashion operates about 180 locations across the U.K. There’s no word on whether the bankruptcy will affect jobs or close stores.

Founded in 1834, the company began operations as a pawnbroker and didn’t begin selling apparel until the 1950’s. Financial distress during the Covid outbreak forced M&Co into administration in August 2020. The McGeoch family which owns M&CO bought the retailer back through a pre-packaged deal negotiated ahead of time with creditor consent. Friday’s filing represents its second bankruptcy in as many years.

Brosa’s administrators hunt for a buyer

Australian online furniture and home decor retailer Brosa fell into voluntary administration on Wednesday with a filing under the name Brosa Design Pty Ltd. Richard Tucker and Michael Korda of KordaMentha are acting ass voluntary administrators.

Tucker told the business ran into cash flow challenges as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The administrators are holding a warehouse and stock clearance sale while they try to sell the business and potentially refocus the company with a made-to-order model.

David Wei, Ivan Lim and Richard Li founded the company in April 2014, according to Crunchbase, which also lists a Series B as its last funding round on Oct. 25, 2017. The company has raised 12 million Australian dollars ($8.2 million) in total.

The company was founded to remove importers, wholesalers and high-end stores, and other markup costs from furniture design, and cut inflated price tags in the traditional retail store channel. Brosa included QR codes on each product tracking who made it, where it’s located and when was it moved. Live inventory progress tracing allows customers to buy an item while it is being made. Brosa also started its own delivery fleet, according to Crunchbase.

Brosa operated Melbourne and Sydney showrooms and an e-commerce store, and employed more than 75 at the time of its collapse.