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Nicole Farhi collapses into administration

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Luxury label Nicole Farhi has collapsed into administration.

The retailer appointed Zolfo Cooper as administrator today, according to Drapers’ sister publication Retail Week.

Sources told the magazine that Zolfo Cooper is planning to run a sale process of the brand. It is rumoured that the eponymous designer Nicole Farhi could be in the running to buy the company back.

It is thought Nicole Farhi’s owners had been trying to sell the business in recent weeks after a turbulent few years in which there have been a series of management and ownership changes.

Nicole Farhi has changed hands twice in recent years.

Having been founded in 1982 by French Connection boss Stephen Marks and his former partner Nicole Farhi, it was sold to US private equity firm OpenGate in 2010 for about £5m. OpenGate later sold its stake to private equity group Kelso Place Asset Management in January 2012.

Kelso Place committed to invest £15m over five years.

In May, Nicole Farhi lost its chief executive Francois Steiner, who resigned from the luxury retailer “due to circumstances that require him to spend time in Paris,” according to the group. Steiner had only been with the business a year. He joined in 2012 initially as interim chief executive after Niki Scordi left the business.

Just two months before his departure, Steiner told Drapers he had restructured the team and focused the design of the brand in order to get it back on track - but at the time, former stockists were sceptical about whether they would return to it.

Sion Kearsey, managing director of Kelso Place, and the retailer’s creative director Joanna Sykes took over the day-to-day management of the business.

The most recent available figures for Nicole Farhi show the brand made operating losses of £5.6m in the year to January 31, 2010 on revenue of £21.7m.

Nicole Farhi has four standalone stores in London and a presence in department stores Harvey NicholsHouse of Fraser and Selfridges across the UK.


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