Camaïeu

Activity
Clothing retailer
Transaction value
€1,470 million
Acquired
May 2007
Sector
Consumer
Camaïeu

Business
On May 22nd, 2007, holdings controlled by Cinven acquired a 67% controlling stake in the French women’s fashion retailer Camaïeu. On March 31st 2011, these holdings acquired a further 30% stake in Camaïeu in exchange for shares in a Cinven controlled vehicle. Following approval from French Stock Exchange authorities on 7th June 2011, these holdings launched a withdrawal offer on the 10th June followed by a squeeze-out procedure, thus delisting the company as of the 24th of June.

Camaïeu is a leading women’s fashion retail chain. It offers affordable ‘ready to wear, easy to buy’ apparel for women between 20 and 40 years of age operating a network of 1,060 stores, of which 626 are in France and the balance in Poland, Italy, Russia and other countries. Camaïeu has pursued a successful strategy of carefully controlled international expansion via directly operated stores and franchises. Over the last four years, the Camaïeu store network has grown by 14% CAGR and almost tripled its footprint outside France. In 2009, Camaïeu successfully launched a fully functional ecommerce site.

Camaïeu is a trend follower and a pricing leader. The company’s sophisticated systems and processes (procurement, logistics, restocking and product mix) enable it to optimise sales through a continuous flow of competitively priced products at high volumes. At an average 200 square metres, the size of Camaïeu’s stores offers potential for further expansion in smaller catchment areas where larger competitors cannot justify a presence.

Strategy
Camaïeu has a business model that offers low fashion risk, an efficient infrastructure and an exportable concept. The original strategy was to help the Company capitalise on its market leadership position in France to create a successful international and highly profitable retailer.  The Company has continued high return on capital employed (ROCE) on new openings. Cinven’s investment thesis is 1) to strengthen Camaïeu's positioning and differentiation in its core market with a view to boosting like for like growth and 2) to support and accelerate the proven strategy of rolling out new stores across its various geographies.

Progress
In light of a challenging economic environment, Cinven has reinforced management with a view to implement a number of strategic initiatives centred on driving sales growth and maintaining margins. In September 2013 Elisabeth Cunin joined as CEO, bringing more than two decades of retail experience, including as CEO of Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princess tam.tam. Flawless execution, improved pricing and positioning of individual clothing ranges are key priorities.