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  • Antoine Vella

Seven candidates to take over Kookaï in court-ordered receivership

Seven candidates are in the running to take over Kookaï, the women's fashion retailer which is due to go into receivership in February 2023. Kookaï was acquired by Australian businessman Rob Cromb in 2017, but it does not have sufficient funds to finance a recovery plan.

Several candidates have expressed an interest in taking over Kookaï, a women's ready-to-wear company. Placed in receivership in February, the company has been operating under an Australian banner since 2017. There are said to be seven bidders for the takeover, including Groupe Beaumanoir and Antonelle-Un jour ailleurs, according to a source close to the matter who told AFP.

"There's no more risk-taking [in terms of style] at Kookaï," says Hélène, a Kookaï employee.

A transformation and an Australian turn

Australian Rob Cromb bought Kookaï from the Vivarte group, which included Caroll, Minelli, La Halle, Naf Naf and Chevignon, but the latter was wound up in 2021. It then made "a 360-degree turn". Despite this, Kookaï ended up presenting a continuation plan to the Paris Commercial Court. In September, the court ruled that there was insufficient cash to finance the plan, paving the way for the company to be bought out. "We have received several expressions of interest, but we do not have access to the details of the offers", management told AFP.

"There's no more risk-taking [in terms of style] at Kookaï", lamented Hélène (name changed), who wished to remain anonymous in this delicate context where the fate of the company is at stake. Marie, an employee who has worked at Kookaï for around ten years, laments: "It's a shame to see French brands going under. Now you have to buy luxury, discount or foreign brands like Zara". While the company has lost its "French-style" brand image, other problems were also mentioned, such as cutting problems for certain items.

Lack of communication

Since the Covid pandemic crisis, Kookaï has been caught up by rival brands such as "Zara, H & M and more recently Shein", according to the company.

For their part, the employees interviewed by AFP denounced a "lack of communication" by management in the procedure and a failure to listen to "employees on the ground", who have been sounding the alarm for several years. These employees have been sounding the alarm for several years, noting the loss of customer interest, restocking problems and falling sales.

Kookaï has around a hundred shops in France. It also has international operations in Spain, Switzerland, the United States and Australia. In 2022, the group posted sales of €45 million, down 25% on 2019.

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