French fashion brand Carven aims to triple sales in 4 years

French fashion brand Carven aims to triple sales in 4 years

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 – 15:43


PARIS – French fashion brand Carven aims to triple its sales within four years, helped by ambitious store-opening plans and solid demand for its chic schoolgirl style, its chief executive and controlling shareholder said on Tuesday.

The label, known for its colourful 200-euro (S$340) miniskirts and short 400-euro dresses, captured fashion editors’attention when it made a comeback three years ago.

A couture label that lost its lustre in the 1980s, Carven is one several brands enjoying a revival under the stewardship of new designers and owners such as Kering’s Balenciaga and privately owned Lanvin.

Businessman Henri Sebaoun bought Carven in 2008 together with French private equity firm Turenne Capital, and hired designer Guillaume Henry, formerly at Paule Ka and Givenchy, who presented his first collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2011.

To finance the brand’s development, Sebaoun sold Carven’s perfume business to perfume maker Jacques Bogart which has retained Henry as a consultant.

In 2011, Sebaoun said Carven’s sales stood at about 20 million euros, and they are now estimated at 45 million. “I hope to triple sales within four years, it is my ambition,” Sebaoun told Reuters in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Paris’ Latin Quarter, declining to give a precise figure for revenues.


Sebaoun said Carven was financing the opening of new shops in countries outside the United States and France with the backing of local partners and the company was in talks with potential new investors regarding its share capital. “We are currently studying various possibilities regarding potential new partners for the years to come,” he said.

Sebaoun, whose family owns 63 percent of Carven, said he was in no hurry to strike a deal as the business was profitable last year and he expected it to remain so in 2014, a change of heart since 2011 when he said he might float the business.

An initial public offering (IPO) was not on the agenda, he said, “Today, I am no longer thinking about an IPO. It is too early for us in terms of sales.” “I am not a seller and I want to remain the majority shareholder,” he said.

However, new share capital would allow Turenne to cash in, he said, and, once a deal is done, the company would also seek to raise debt to help fund projects such as the opening of a permanent office in New York.

Sebaoun said in 2014, Carven planned to open 12 shops in cities including Los Angeles, Miami, Dubai and Jakarta after having opened 15 boutiques last year, including its first in New York and in London.

Today, the brand owns fully, or through a joint-venture, some 23 boutiques around the world and 15 department store franchises. It also sells to multi-brand stores and derives, overall, 85 percent of its revenue from wholesale buyers.

The target was to bring that level to 60 percent and make 40 percent of sales from its own retail network, Sebaoun said.

Industry experts say Carven needs to manage its expansion carefully as it could risk spending significant amounts in countries, such as China, where demand can be fickle.

Looking forward, Sebaoun said he wants to develop accessories – now 15 percent of sales – but longer-term, his strategy was not to create big collections of bags and shoes, as many luxury brands do, but to remain focused on clothing. “I think the era of the hit-bag (top-selling bag) is over,”Sebaoun said. “There are too many actors in that market.”

He said his target was for accessories to represent about 30 percent of total revenue.

Known as Madame Carven, Carven de Tommaso created the label in 1945, making dresses for princesses and film stars, and is now 104, making her the oldest renowned French designer alive. Hubert de Givenchy is 86.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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