The PicWicToys toy brand in search of a buyer, soon to be fixed on its fate

The PicWicToys toy brand in search of a buyer, soon to be fixed on its fate

Placed in receivership, the northern sign of PicWicToys toy stores should know its fate at the beginning of July. Eighteen takeover offers were presented, including that of the group owning La Grande Récré, as well as an Irish channel.

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The decision of the Lille Commercial Court concerning the fate of PicWicToys, in great difficulty, is imminent, all takeover offers having been filed.

The network of northern toy stores (45 stores and 817 employees, head office in Lomme), 51% owned by Romain Mulliez and 49% by the American fund Cyrus Capital Partners, was placed in receivership on May 23, faced with serious financial difficulties.

The chain of toy stores, created in 1977 under the name PicWic by Stéphane Mulliez, renamed PicWicToys in 2019 after the takeover of the French stores of the American Toys’R’Us, suffered from a difficult situation
: social movements of 2019, health crisis and successive confinements which saw the closure of stores for long periods, competition from the web, supply difficulties, and undoubtedly insufficient financing at the time of the merger.

A third fewer employees in 2020

At the end of 2020, PicWicToys posted a turnover of 237.5 million euros but also a loss of 88.1 million euros (after 32.4 million a year earlier). A reorganization of logistics and central services was announced, as well as a Social plans providing for the elimination of 447 positions and the closure of 23 stores (eventually reduced to 18).

In cessation of payment, PicWicToys was placed in receivership last May with an observation period of six months. But things have to move quickly to allow the start of the Christmas season, crucial for the sustainability of the group.

French offer, Irish offer

Eighteen takeover offers, including many discounters, were made to the Commercial Court of Lille. Two offers seem to stand out.

That of the Irish group Smyths Toyswho would thus enter France, and that of the Bordeaux businessman Michel Ohayonthrough its investment group HPB (already taking over La Grande Récré, Go Sport, Camaïeu, Gap and the Cafés Legal). This group, which already owns a toy brand, would create a leader in the sector in France and would undertake to keep 90% of jobs.

This last offer, which is socially better-priced and which would remain in the hands of French capital, is preferred by certain politicians, in particular the Republican and Ecological Left (GRE) of Hauts-de-France, which questioned the President of the Region Xavier Bertrand on the need to keep the sign ” under French flag “.

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