January 18, 2022

The France Loisirs group finds a buyer but will lose more than 600 jobs

The Paris Commercial Court chose, Monday, December 13, among the two takeover offers of the France Loisirs group, the one supported by the simplified joint stock company (SAS) Financière Trésor du Patrimoine. The book club, in great financial difficulty, was weighed down by a deficit of 14 million euros accumulated between January and the end of October alone, with turnover falling by more than 20% during this period. Placed in compulsory liquidation on October 25, France Loisirs continued its activity and still had nearly a thousand employees by integrating all its subsidiaries, including 750 in France (between the book club, the logistics center, the call, print-on-demand and computing).

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The SAS Financière Trésor du Patrimoine takeover plan will only keep 138 employees out of this total and will only keep fourteen stores out of the current 122. The twenty-two partnerships signed with bookstores are not called into question. The new shareholder should inject between 5 million and 7 million euros to get the machine going. This buyer was preferred to the rival offer filed by the press group Reworld Media, which proposed to save only 126 employees. The company is therefore not liquidated, but considerably reduced.

A transformation “too heavy and too slow”

At the head of a very discreet family group with a turnover of 200 million euros, Derek Rémy Smith created SAS Financière Trésor du Patrimoine, a mail order company, initially specializing in coins, medals, stamps and collectibles. It has diversified into publishing with a small collection of history books confined to the Napoleonic battles, French decorations and colonial wars.

Franco-American, Mr. Smith has already taken over the catalog of L’Homme moderne at the bar of the court. in 2007, before launching into the sale, still by mail order, of local food products and foie gras (by buying in particular Léon Fargues or Traditions du Périgord). In 2015, he also acquired Château de Rayne Vigneau, a Sauternes premier cru, from a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole.

Already on the verge of bankruptcy, France Loisirs was taken over in 2015 by Adrian Diaconu, a businessman at the head of a Luxembourg group diversified in drones, the security of connected objects and artificial intelligence. Refusing to see this debt-ridden group disappear, he injected some 30 million euros of his personal fortune to try to keep it afloat. And try to keep the 2,000 employees. Without success. Over the years, he had to lay off. “Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in bringing all the employees to the other side, the transformation of the company has been too heavy and too slow”, he regrets, adding that “The health crisis has not spared us”. However, Adrian Diaconu hopes that the buyer can quickly reinstate around forty or even fifty additional employees.

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