While announcing a major refinancing package, the Lafuma Group reported that its turnover increased by 7.2 percent to €120.7 million over the six-month period up to March 31, although on a comparable basis, excluding the integration of Eider’s activities, it decreased by 2.5 percent. On a comparable basis, the second quarter was better than the first one, which saw a decline of 5.5 percent.
Sales of the group’s so-called Grand Outdoor division dropped by 9.7 percent to €47.3 million due to the poor performance of its Ober jeans, down by 25 percent, and Lafuma camping furniture, down by 16 percent.
The mountain division soared by 79.3 percent to €37.0 million following the takeover of Eider and its integration with Millet. Without Eider, which was bought last summer, Millet alone grew by 22 percent across all product lines.
Sales of the surf division, represented mainly by Oxbow, fell by 5.4 percent to €33.0 million although sales in the second quarter of the six-month period were better than those of the first thanks to good sales of Oxbow in France.
The Country division, led by Le Chameau, also experienced a drop of 5.4 percent in sales; however, Le Chameau is reported to be steadily improving and is expected to bring in a stable turnover over the full financial year despite reduced orders in the U.K., which is the brand’s second market after France, due to the weakening pound.
Sales in France grew by 4.6 percent to €76.9 million, while sales in the rest of the world went up by 11.2 percent to €52.8 million. Sales are still growing internationally, led by Asia where activity ran out of steam at the end of the quarter.
Retail sales at Lafuma’s stores rose by 15 percent but at Oxbow’s stores they slipped by 1.6 percent, indicating the fact that customers are delaying purchases of fashion products.
The French group also announced last week the details of an equity increase of about €10 million which, like the recent sale of its rights to the Millet brand in Korea, should help restore its financial position on a more solid basis, with a commitment to develop now its activities through organic growth. The company’s debt-equity ratio deteriorated from 71 percent to 81 percent in the last financial year, following its takeover of Eider in June 2008 and its reduced profitability.
All the present shareholders are being invited to exercize their rights of first refusal on the 1,306,860 new shares being issues by the company, but at least two of them, Comir and Sherpa Finance, have said that they will only use them in part.
At present, Comir is Lafuma’s largest shareholder with a stake of 21.76 percent, followed by the Lafuma and Joffard families – including Philippe Joffard, the company’s chief executive, with about 21 percent. Sherpa Finance, which owns 10.34 percent of the shares, is the personal investment vehicle of Philippe Joffard.
Fortis owns 7 percent, and the public broadly owns the rest. The capital increase will see the emergence of a new shareholder. CDC Entreprise, a French institutional investor owned by the Caisse des Dépôts bank, has agreed to subscribe to any of the new shares that will not be acquired by the existing shareholders, up to a maximum of 25 percent of the total equity.
The tender offer, which is intended for the French public, lasts from May 5 to May 14, allowing the rights of first refusal to be traded on Euronext Paris during this period. It is based on a three-for-five share deal at €8 per new share. Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking and Oddo & Cie. will act as co-managers of the transaction. Close Brothers is acting as advisor.
Reassuring its suppliers, Lafuma previously announced the completion of negotiations for rescheduling its debt. It has signed an agreement in principle to reimburse its syndicated loans over a five-year period, with payments being made every six months starting on Dec. 31, 2009.
Reimbursement of the group’s other medium-term loans will begin a year later than planned, while short-term commitments are confirmed for one year.
Another recent new development was the appointment of Didier Hamm, former marketing director of Lindt & Sprungli, as the new general manager of the group’s Lafuma division. The post had been vacant since Luc Guénard became the group’s vice president.