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Christian Lacroix Files Bankruptcy Equivalent in Paris

>> Christian Lacroix, filed a petition for protection from creditors — the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection — in a Paris court today, which will then decide whether to restructure or liquidate the company.

Lacroix CEO Nicolas Topiol said he plans "a continuation of the business, but the crisis has definitely hit us below the knees."  He declined to say how much was owed, but did say that ready-to-wear sales for Fall 2009 were down 35 percent and losses for 2008 were about $14 million on overall revenues of approximately $42 million. He characterized couture sales — Lacroix's bread and butter — in 2008 as “flattish,” but far better than those for ready-to-wear.

Today's petition throws the status of Lacroix's Cruise 2010 and Fall 2009 couture participation, both coming up — the latter in early July — into question, but Topiol said both collections are still in progress.  A scaled-back couture presentation is "most likely" — the strain of finances on the company was already visable during the Fall 2009 show, which was held in a parking garage with only broken mirrors providing decor — and noted that couture remains Lacroix's "most flexible business because we do most of it internally and we have a very dedicated group of clients.”

Some restructuring, including job cuts for some of the firm's 125 employees, is expected, but a sale of the company is also a possibility — Lacroix's owner, Falic Group, has been in advanced discussions with a group of Swiss investors.  Topiol's take-home message?  The filing “doesn’t mean the end of the story. It’s the beginning of another chapter.”

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