The day after the end of the winter sales, Wednesday March 4, the employees of Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princesse Tam-Tam in France were showered. Known for its Uniqlo stores, the Japanese group Fast Retailing has announced a restructuring of the two French clothing brands that it has owned since their takeover in 2005. According to the CGT, an employment safeguard plan covers “ the elimination of 217 positions »Within Comptoir des cotonniers (out of a total of 517). ” It is too early to specify the number of jobs concerned “, However, affirms the spokesperson for Fast Retailing, Aldo Liguori, in Tokyo, without however denying this figure.
This bleeding would first result from the closure of 74 Comptoir des Cotonniers outlets. ” Including the 50 corners operated in the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps department stores », Specifies the management of the Japanese group. The Princess Tam-Tam women’s lingerie chain which employs 342 people ” will close 7 stores and 19 corners »Within department stores, also includes Fast Retailing. The stores are expected to lower the curtain between August 2021 and March 2022.
These measures should improve ” competitiveness “, Straighten out the two signs which are currently in deficit and accelerate their transformation towards online sales, assures the group. Because it is a long time since Comptoir des Cotonniers was a figure in the city center trade. Founded in 1995, by a couple, Tony and Georgette Elicha, in Castelginest, near Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), this brand seduced mothers and daughters in the 2000s, thanks to prices halfway between those of Zara and by Gérard Darel.
Its managers, including Frédéric Biousse and Elie Kouby, now head of the Experienced Capital investment fund, which owns Le Slip Français, Balibaris et Sœur, have also made a significant contribution to building its network of points of sale, with the help of funds, until its resale in 2005. Fast Retailing then got its hands on this flagship by swearing to want to export the sign. But today it is only present in eight countries. And 191 of its 252 stores are located in France.
Also in 2005, for around 70 million euros, the Japanese took over another figure in the sale of fashion under the banner, Princesse Tam-Tam. This brand of women’s underwear was founded by two sisters, Shama and Loumia Hiridjee. In 1985, they started cutting panties out of the poplin of men’s underpants. Princess Tam-Tam will be the opposite of Aubade and Chantelle lace. Without resorting to department stores or franchises, the two sisters set up their own sales network throughout France. With success. But, since its takeover, the network has hardly grown. Princess Tam Tam operates two overseas boutiques, out of a total of 118, around thirty more than in 2005.
A gigantic store
These two chains are just two thumbs up within Fast Retailing: it has 3,630 stores worldwide – most of them Uniqlo. Their restructuring is not, however, a surprise. In August 2020, the group chaired by its founder, Tadashi Yanai, reported a deterioration of its operating profit of 42% in one year and a drop in activity of 12.3% to 16 billion euros. .
The group is presented as one of the fashion distributors having best withstood the crisis
In France, Fast Retailing explains the bad luck of Comptoir des Cotonniers and Princesse Tam-Tam by “ the changing business landscape ” and the ” drastic changes in consumer behavior ” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The French market lost nearly 18% of its value in 2020, according to the French Fashion Institute. But, in the eyes of the CGT, the economic situation does not explain everything. The union points ” the unsuitable choices of the shareholder ” at work ” for several years “. Since 2019, a French stylist, Nathalie Marchal, has been leading the artistic creation of Comptoir des Cotonniers. She succeeded a figure of Japanese fashion, Naoki Takizawa, former artistic director of Issey Myake and Uniqlo, which Fast Retailing had imposed in 2016, after two French stylists.
Fast Retailing, however, remains ambitious in 2021. The group, which is presented as one of the fashion retailers having best withstood the crisis, expects to achieve a turnover of 2.2 billion yen in 2021, i.e. more of 17 billion euros. In France, the Japanese group says it has not reviewed Uniqlo’s expansion plan. He is preparing the inauguration of a gigantic store in Paris, rue de Rivoli, in place of one of the historic stores of La Samaritaine, owned by LVMH.