Go Sport and its 2,160 employees set Thursday on their future

published on Monday, January 16, 2023 at 12:20 p.m.

Is the sporting goods distributor Go Sport insolvent? The Grenoble commercial court will rule on Thursday after Monday’s examination of the file of this group founded in 1978, which employs 2,160 employees in France.

The judges’ decision has been reserved for January 19, said Go Sport’s central social and economic committee (CSEC) lawyer, Me Evelyn Bledniak, after about 1.5 hours of visibly tense hearing at behind closed doors.

“There were debates, discussions (…) We presented the accounts,” she said, refusing to make any predictions. “There are things that (parent company Hermione People and Brands) HPB announced. Afterwards, the question is + does it hold, is it enough? + And that’s it- on which the court will rule,” she added.

The leaders of HPB, for their part, were walled in silence, even when a representative of Force Ouvrière, Laurence Labaurie, strongly challenged its president Wilhelm Hubner at the end of the hearing.

“It’s a shame! Camaïeu wasn’t enough for you, now it’s Go Sport? You won’t take him to paradise!”, she told him. A dozen staff representatives, wearing sleeveless vests in the colors of Go Sport, went to court, declaring themselves also “revolted, angry”.

Monday’s hearing was devoted to examining the file submitted on January 9 by the investigating judge appointed at the end of December to “make a precise statement of the financial situation” of the group and its subsidiary Go Sport France, with the help of its audit firms and its auditors.

– “Do not end like Camaïeu” –

The points of view diverge diametrically between the representatives of the employees, who fear the worst, and HPB, which had bought it at the end of 2021 for a symbolic euro and appears optimistic.

HPB leaders insist that Go Sport “is not in default” and that its situation has nothing to do with that of Camaïeu, which was abruptly liquidated at the end of September. After “17 years of losses”, Go Sport should return to profit “from 2023”, assured Wilhelm Hubner, the president of HPB.

On January 3, the group appointed a specialist in the restructuring of companies in difficulty, Patrick Puy, previously boss of the fallen textile flagship Vivarte (Caroll, Minelli, La Halle, Naf Naf, Chevignon, etc.) to head the brand. .) and whose mission is to “pursue the necessary transformation” of the company.

Conversely, the employees of Go Sport, their union representatives and the CSEC, are concerned following the findings made by auditors and an expert appointed by the latter. They had estimated that the company was in default of payment over the October-November period and were alarmed by a rise of 36 million euros in cash from Go Sport to HPB.

Another cause for concern: HPB announced Thursday “the acquisition of GAP France by Go Sport”. In the amount of 38 million euros, it “aims to strengthen the Lifestyle and Sportswear activity of these two HPB brands, while preserving specific strategies”.

According to Christophe Lavalle, Force Ouvrière delegate and member of the CSEC, “today (Monday), it was highlighted that no one understood how Gap was an element of external growth, how Gap was going to be able to pull Go Sport upwards, quite the contrary”.

As for the rest, “for us our choice is a bit like the plague or the cholera: either conciliation or legal redress, with in both cases the possibilities of social damage that could occur”, said he lamented.

“What we want is to find an honest, competent buyer who can pull the group up and get it out of the impasse. (…) We don’t want to end up like Camaïeu, the luck we have, it is to have taken our destiny into our own hands,” he continued.


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