Yannis Bilquez, chairman of Charles Jourdan and of Avendis Capital, the Swiss-based investment company that took over the French brand of elegant footwear two years ago, cancelled a meeting with the shoe manufacturer’s staff, scheduled for Aug. 23 to give them an update on its negotiations to subcontract its production.
The reason given for the cancellation is said to be a series of financial problems, linked to the recent credit crisis in the USA, that are forcing Avendis to liquidate one of its hedge funds, Golden Key, which managed assets worth about $5 billion. Another hedge fund, Avendis Enhanced Fix Income, is said to be under trouble as well.
Jourdan employs about 200 people, including 100 production workers in the French city of Romans. As reported in the last issue of Shoe Intelligence, reports have circulated since July about the possibility that a local entrepreneur in Romans may take over the machinery and the production staff of Jourdan and use it also for other purposes.
The potential subcontractor, Yann Bastien, confirmed the negotiations with Bilquez, but said that there was no deadline and that it was too early to tell whether they would succeed. The company would use Jourdan’s present manufacturing facilities in Romans, but the number of Jourdan employees that it would rehire would depend on the guarantees that Bilquez will provide over future orders. Bilquez is also expected to provide support to finance the takeover.
Founded in October 2005 by two graduates of Romans’ technical school for shoemakers, Yann Tena and Sébastien Cattot, the company currently employs only a dozen people in the manufacture of small runs of shoes for French designer brands such as Cacharel and Martine Sitbon. They would add other jobs of this kind if they acquire Jourdan’s facilities. Tena has worked in the past for companies such as Hasley and Robert Clergerie. Carrot worked for Apple Shoes before he began to make orthopedic shoes in Romans a few years before.
Meanwhile, representatives of Jourdan’s staff have named a consultant charged of obtaining guarantees from Avendis on its commitment to the brand and to draw up a report that may or may not lead to action by judicial authorities. The local bankruptcy court has already scheduled a hearing for Sept. 12 on the financial situation of Jourdan, which it checked closely over the last three months after Avendis failed to provide the cash to make certain payments to government institutions and to suppliers.