Club Med Owner Buys Lanvin, France's Oldest Couture House

What do you get when you mix a French leisure company and a French couture house? Well, that is what Fosun – the Chinese firm that owns Club Med and now Lanvin – is about to find out. The Shanghai-based conglomerate announced that it is taking control of Lanvin, France’s oldest surviving couture label. The Lanvin acquisition is Fosun’s most prominent fashion investment yet, and "comes at a time when consumers in China – the world’s second biggest economy – are driving a global revival in luxury goods spending," per Reuters.  

According to Reuters, "Fosun gave no financial details of the transaction." It did say, however, that "current shareholders – who include Wang, with 75 percent of the firm, and Swiss businessman Ralph Bartel, who has 25 percent – would retain a minority stake in Lanvin." Sources are saying that the Chinese group is expected to invest around 100 million euros ($123 million) in the fashion house, a source close to the matter said. Fosun added in a statement that with its resources Lanvin would “enter a new phase of expansion.”

The news follows November reports that auditors were alerting a French commercial court that Lanvin’s already “worrying” financial situation has become increasingly dire. The filing – as required by a French law that calls on auditors to inform company management, as well as file court warnings, when a company’s operations risk being compromised due to financial hardship – should come as little surprise given the consistent reports of deepening “crises” at the house that Jeanne built.

Lanvin, France's oldest fashion brand, has been plagued with reports of financial difficulties, which began to intensify in October 2015 when WWD revealed that Lanvin’s then-creative director, the beloved Alber Elbaz, had been “ousted from the company after a stellar 14-year tenure.” In a statement, Elbaz characterized his dismissal as a result of “the decision of the company’s majority shareholder.” Lanvin opted for a brief statement confirming that it had, in fact, ended its collaboration with Elbaz and “thanking him for the chapter he has written” for the brand.

As of November, Reuters’ sources revealed that “Lanvin needs an injection of cash to buy some breathing space or it may not be able to pay employees’ salaries in January [2018]. However, they added that a recapitalization originally discussed for September may happen by the end of the year.” Shortly thereafter, the brand released a statement saying that owner "Shaw-Lan Wang will inject fresh cash into the label by the year-end."

UPDATED (March 22, 2018): Lanvin is parting ways with its creative director Olivier Lapidus and general manager Nicolas Druz, in the first big moves by Fosun International since the Chinese conglomerate bought the French label last month, per WWD