Profile : Michel Ohayon, greatness and decadence

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Who is Michel Ohayon, the businessman everyone has been talking about lately? Over the last few decades, he had managed to build a real estate and business empire in France. But his retail portfolio was very weakened by the Camaïeu disaster.

 

At 61, he is one of the leading property owners in downtown Bordeaux. His portfolio also includes luxury hotels and an array of retail assets such as La Grande Récré, Gap France, Go sport and Galeries Lafayette stores in the regions. In addition to these sectors, the Oenology and Restaurant sectors are also associated with his name, through his investment company, Financière Immobilière Bordelaise and his subsidiary Hermione People and Brands (HPB).

 

The latest news is the announcement that the 26 Galeries Lafayette stores he controls in France, through the company Hermione Retail, have been placed in receivership. This announcement was made during a rare interview with Sud Ouest on February 17. The next day, a spokesman for the businessman corrected his statements: these stores will be put under safeguard of the commercial court, not placed in receivership.

 

“There has been a mistake (…). There is no placement in receivership, because a request for placement in safeguard procedure was filed Friday morning with the commercial court of Bordeaux. There is no suspension of payments” he told AFP.

 

Michel Ohayon indeed owns about 20 Galeries Lafayette department stores, acquired from the eponymous group in 2018. They employ 750 employees across France, in cities such as Bayonne, Cannes, Niort and Rouen.

 

Despite a rich real estate portfolio, Mr. Ohayon’s empire is rocking dangerously as his retail business seems to be flying like a feather.

 

Michel Ohayon, one of France’s great fortunes

 

An expert in company takeovers, sometimes described as too greedy, is the Girondin man burning his wings?

 

Last September, the liquidation of Camaïeu left some 2,600 employees without jobs. A few months later, the Grenoble Commercial Court placed Go Sport, another company owned by Michel Ohayon, in receivership, employing more than 2,000 people. Ohayon has appealed the decision, claiming that the sports store will be “sold before” the end of the procedure. Since then, the union representatives of the 300 employees of the Gap France ready-to-wear chain have also exercised their right to be alerted.

 

Go Sport has been destabilized because of Camaïeu. While the company was going to make its first profit in 17 years in 2023, the employees did not trust the managers (…) It is a mistake that will cause social breakage and involve Gap in the same movement. A safeguarding would have been enough” he comments. These statements were made after the Bordeaux court also placed its main holding company, Financière Immobilière Bordelaise, in receivership, at its request, on February 15.

 

It was with this first company that the Gironde man built his vast empire, starting in the 1980s. But who really is this versatile investor, the 104th richest person in France, according to the latest ranking of Challenges magazine?

 

The French dream

 

Arriving from Casablanca at the age of two in Gironde, this son of fabric merchants began his entrepreneurial career in Bordeaux in the ready-to-wear industry. At the age of 22, he opened his first franchise store with Daniel Hechter, which was a great success. The profits generated by the sales allowed him to buy other stores and to own 15 stores after several years. With an ever-growing appetite, he decided to enter the real estate business and bought up many dilapidated buildings, which he then rented out to major brands such as Zara and H&M.

 

The years 2000 are synonymous with success for this businessman with multiple hats. In 2005, he entered the top 500 of the largest fortunes in France. Little by little, he acquired hotels such as the Trianon Palace in Versailles or the Sheraton in Roissy. He even decided to become a building contractor by building an auditorium for the Bordeaux city council.

 

A greedy contractor?

 

Since 2018, Michel Ohayon has multiplied acquisitions in the crisis-ridden retail sector. That year, he became the owner of about twenty Galeries Lafayette stores, and then went on to buy up companies at the bar, including Camaïeu, Gap and Go Sport. A decision not so wise as that, considering the problems he is facing recently.

 

It remains to be seen how he will manage to get out of this series of blunders and reconnect with the Baraka…

 

Read also >Galeries Lafayette sells the BHV Marais

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Who is Michel Ohayon, the businessman everyone has been talking about lately? Over the last few decades, he had managed to build a real estate and business empire in France. But his retail portfolio was very weakened by the Camaïeu disaster.

 

At 61, he is one of the leading property owners in downtown Bordeaux. His portfolio also includes luxury hotels and an array of retail assets such as La Grande Récré, Gap France, Go sport and Galeries Lafayette stores in the regions. In addition to these sectors, the Oenology and Restaurant sectors are also associated with his name, through his investment company, Financière Immobilière Bordelaise and his subsidiary Hermione People and Brands (HPB).

 

The latest news is the announcement that the 26 Galeries Lafayette stores he controls in France, through the company Hermione Retail, have been placed in receivership. This announcement was made during a rare interview with Sud Ouest on February 17. The next day, a spokesman for the businessman corrected his statements: these stores will be put under safeguard of the commercial court, not placed in receivership.

 

“There has been a mistake (…). There is no placement in receivership, because a request for placement in safeguard procedure was filed Friday morning with the commercial court of Bordeaux. There is no suspension of payments” he told AFP.

 

Michel Ohayon indeed owns about 20 Galeries Lafayette department stores, acquired from the eponymous group in 2018. They employ 750 employees across France, in cities such as Bayonne, Cannes, Niort and Rouen.

 

Despite a rich real estate portfolio, Mr. Ohayon’s empire is rocking dangerously as his retail business seems to be flying like a feather.

 

Michel Ohayon, one of France’s great fortunes

 

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Who is Michel Ohayon, the businessman everyone has been talking about lately? Over the last few decades, he had managed to build a real estate and business empire in France. But his retail portfolio was very weakened by the Camaïeu disaster.

 

At 61, he is one of the leading property owners in downtown Bordeaux. His portfolio also includes luxury hotels and an array of retail assets such as La Grande Récré, Gap France, Go sport and Galeries Lafayette stores in the regions. In addition to these sectors, the Oenology and Restaurant sectors are also associated with his name, through his investment company, Financière Immobilière Bordelaise and his subsidiary Hermione People and Brands (HPB).

 

The latest news is the announcement that the 26 Galeries Lafayette stores he controls in France, through the company Hermione Retail, have been placed in receivership. This announcement was made during a rare interview with Sud Ouest on February 17. The next day, a spokesman for the businessman corrected his statements: these stores will be put under safeguard of the commercial court, not placed in receivership.

 

“There has been a mistake (…). There is no placement in receivership, because a request for placement in safeguard procedure was filed Friday morning with the commercial court of Bordeaux. There is no suspension of payments” he told AFP.

 

Michel Ohayon indeed owns about 20 Galeries Lafayette department stores, acquired from the eponymous group in 2018. They employ 750 employees across France, in cities such as Bayonne, Cannes, Niort and Rouen.

 

Despite a rich real estate portfolio, Mr. Ohayon’s empire is rocking dangerously as his retail business seems to be flying like a feather.

 

Michel Ohayon, one of France’s great fortunes

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Thanks to its extensive knowledge of these sectors, the Luxus + editorial team deciphers for its readers the main economic and technological stakes in fashion, watchmaking, jewelry, gastronomy, perfumes and cosmetics, hotels, and prestigious real estate.

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