LVMH sells Christian Lacroix to US duty-free chain

26th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 25 (AFP) - French luxury group LVMH has sold the loss-making Christian Lacroix fashion house to the Falic Group, the second-largest US duty-free retailer, company officials announced here Tuesday.

PARIS, Jan 25 (AFP) - French luxury group LVMH has sold the loss-making Christian Lacroix fashion house to the Falic Group, the second-largest US duty-free retailer, company officials announced here Tuesday.

A representative for the Falic brothers, Nicolas Topiol, said the group hoped that Lacroix would stay on at the company that bears his name, telling AFP: "We're not in a rush. He needs some time to get to know us."

The sale of the label was finalised on Monday, officials from both sides said. The amount of the transaction was not revealed.

Lacroix told reporters after the presentation of his spring-summer 2005 haute couture collection, where the sale was made public, that his role within the house would not change.

"What I want is to finally be heard, which hasn't happened for the past 17 years, and for the right people to be given the right jobs," the French designer said after earning a standing ovation for his exuberant couture line.

The announcement of the Lacroix sale came one day after Prada Group announced the departure of star Austrian designer Helmut Lang and said it would take over his unprofitable eponymous label.

The recent decisions by two of fashion's biggest luxury groups highlights a trend among industry executives to crack down on high-profile designers whose labels, despite their stellar reputations, fail to turn a profit.

Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye, the current chairman of the Lacroix label, said the house's activities would continue as usual for the time being, adding: "We're soon going to launch a new perfume."

For some time, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) and Lacroix have been at odds over how to develop the loss-making label.

LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault, who launched the Lacroix label in 1987, reportedly decided to sell the unit - whose sales never took off - in order to focus on brands with greater growth potential like leather goods maker Louis Vuitton.

LVMH has already sold niche make-up brands Hard Candy and Urban Decay to the Falic Group.

Arnault did not attend Lacroix's couture show on Tuesday, which was held at the Fine Arts School on the French capital's Left Bank.

The French designer wowed the crowd with his collection of brightly coloured evening gowns for the modern Eliza Doolittle, an ode to femininity in a whirlwind of tulle, lace and taffeta.

A short powder-blue organza balloon coat with silver embroidery glimmered off the runway, while elegant gowns in rose, saffron and orange recalled sunsets in Lacroix's native Arles in southern France.

Until now, Lacroix had a freelance contract with LVMH as the artistic director for his fashion label that was due to be renewed in March, but contract negotiations have been ongoing for more than a year.

Lacroix is also the designer for the Italian label Emilio Pucci, which is controlled by LVMH. He is due to unveil ready-to-wear collections for both Pucci and his own label in the next six weeks.

"Ready-to-wear sales will begin next week, and then there will be the (ready-to-wear) show in March and the next couture show in July, which we are preparing as usual," Lacroix said.

The Falic Group, which has annual sales of USD 620 million (EUR 478 million), is controlled by three Falic brothers - Simon, 44; Jerome, 41; and Leon, 34 - Americans of Russian and Israeli descent.

Duty Free Americas (DFA), the group's main company, runs more than 20 airport duty-free shops in major US cities like Boston, Chicago and New York, 25 stores along the US-Canadian border, and 30 more on the border with Mexico.

DFA, which is based in the southern US state of Florida, estimates that nearly one million passengers visit its stores every day.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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