Turnaround or assignment? Go Sport still unanswered

Recovery plan or transfer to a third party? The examination of the future of the Go Sport chain of stores was postponed to April 18 by the Grenoble commercial court, which does not exclude that the group could “improve its situation”.

The agonizing suspense therefore continues for some 2,160 employees of the sporting goods distributor, owned by businessman Michel Ohayon via his company HPB (Hermione, People & Brands), itself in turmoil.

The Grenoble commercial court, which had placed Go Sport and its subsidiary Go Sport France in receivership at the start of the year, considered Monday during a hearing on the report of the judicial administrators and decided to return the consideration of the case, according to judgments dated Wednesday.

The observation period during which the two companies are authorized to “continue their activity” is maintained until July 19, 2023, ruled the court. It “results from the elements reported to the court that” the two companies could “be able to improve (their) situation”.

“HPB notes with satisfaction the decision of the Commercial Court,” a spokesperson for the parent company told AFP, saying that “by extending the observation period, this decision respects and recalls the principle of the primacy of the continuation plan that HPB was preparing over any other disposal project”.

The next two judicial steps in the process are scheduled for March 29 and April 18.

The first will in particular make it possible to rule on an oral request presented Monday by the Grenoble public prosecutor’s office, requesting a “modification of the mission of the judicial administrators so that they fully represent the company”, as well as the “appointment of a judicial expert to explain the cash flows over the months preceding the opening of the procedure”.

In the wake of the brutal liquidation of the Camaïeu ready-to-wear brand in September, the employees of Go Sport, their union representatives and the central social and economic committee (CSEC) were worried several months ago. the financial health of HPB.

They are particularly alarmed by a rise of 36 million euros in cash from Go Sport to HPB, as well as the recent takeover of the Gap France brand by Go Sport for 38 million euros. Gap France has meanwhile been placed in receivership.

– Ohayon wants to stay in control –

On April 18, the court will successively examine the recovery plan presented by HPB, which despite its difficulties has declared that it has decided to remain in control of Go Sport with “a business continuation plan”, then that of a plan to sell the group to a third party.

HPB is the distribution arm of Financière immobilière bordelaise (FIB), an investment fund owned by businessman Michel Ohayon, which was itself declared insolvent and placed in receivership in February by the court of Bordeaux trade.

Mr. Ohayon is currently facing numerous financial difficulties and an investigation has been opened by the Grenoble prosecutor’s office for “abuse of social property” within Go Sport, following “several revelations of criminal facts” reported by his auditors.

The offenses sought were then extended by the Paris prosecutor’s office to “organized gang fraud, habitual money laundering, bankruptcy and abuse of social property”, according to the Grenoble prosecutor’s office. According to the daily Le Monde, the investigation could thus be extended to all the companies of the FIB and its HPB distribution branch.

The candidates for the takeover of Go Sport, which has just lost its boss Patrick Puy last week, had until last Friday to make themselves known. Among them is the Intersport sports chain. According to Le Parisien, the British group Frasers would also be in the running.

Loss-making for years, the group, founded in 1978 and based in Sassenage in the suburbs of Grenoble, was bought at the end of 2021 for a symbolic euro by HPB from the parent company of the Casino food distribution group.

Michel Ohayon is accumulating difficulties after the liquidation of Camaïeu in September. The Bordeaux Commercial Court also placed the twenty-six Galeries Lafayette brands owned by Mr. Ohayon in safeguard proceedings at the end of February.

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