Cameleon about to win the bet of his raise
After its admission of bankruptcy in November, the company specializing in the destocking of branded clothing seems to be on a good footing. First encouraging figures in support.
“We are only at the beginning of the story, we still have work, I may not be the perfect CEO, but give us a chance, we will get there”. Pascale switten, Cameleon’s new managing director is thrilled. Along with her two partners, Thibaut Dehem and Alexis Malherbe, it is about to succeed in its bet, that of relaunching a company that has gone through bankruptcy.
If the company seems back on track, we must not forget the work done in recent weeks by the Cameleon teams. In fact, since last summer, some have been working on a recovery plan, hoping not to have to go through the court. But the second wave of the pandemic got the better of the bravest and bankruptcy emerged as the only way.
“Since the restart, we have sold 200,000 pieces.”
This is when Pascale switten, in charge of purchasing at Cameleon since 2016, came out of the woods with a relaunch project in the company of the staff. We’ll give you the details, but we had to refine the positions before finding the right track. In the end, it is a very unique formula, which came out of the mind of Jean-Olivier Collinet, Managing Director of the ASBL JobYourself wearing the Reload Yourself pilot project cap here, which has enabled the company to relaunch itself.
The continuation of Cameleon’s adventure should take place in the field of action of a cooperative activities. The employees who chose him were able to restart within the company while keeping their unemployment benefits for eighteen months. The money earned at that time will be reinvested in society, in exchange for which the workers will enter the capital of Cameleon, up to a maximum of 24%.
Since the confession of bankruptcy pronounced on November 6, things have not dragged on. December 21, Pascale Switten and her two partners created the company Rengo. The next morning, they signed the deeds at the notary and in the afternoon, they settled the last details with the curatorship. To get there, everyone had to put water in their wine.
The elders, Jean-Cédric Van der Belen in the lead, had to agree to sell the brands and files for a symbolic euro while the buyers agreed to increase their offer for the stock of clothing. The store reopened on December 26 and closed again on January 31, pending the new collection. “Since the restart, we have sold 200,000 pieces”, explains Pascale Switten. While it was counting on a turnover of 2.5 million euros for the disposal of the stock, it amounted to 2.9 million.
On the workers’ side, the support has been rather massive. 50 of them (out of 64) expressed the wish to acquire a stake in the company without really knowing what their participation would be worth or how it would be valued. “It’s a blind adventure, they had to move forward in confidence “, recognizes Pascale Switten. The staff members who have agreed to take a stake in the capital must work 320 hours, a service that will be valued fairly regardless of the level of the worker.” Everyone will have the same share of capital, whether seller, concierge or manager “.
“We will henceforth work more on the short term, in a start-up mode. This will help us regain the trust of suppliers.”
The idea of the new team is also to change model. “We will henceforth work more in the short term, in a start-up mode. This will help us to regain the confidence of suppliers”, explains Pascale Switten. This will involve short-term purchases, this making it possible to avoid dormant stocks and to buy as needed. Finally, and this is not the least bad news, the planned stimulus budget of 2 million euros may be revised downwards after a review of the financial plan and better sales than expected. It will no longer be necessary to fetch more than 500,000 euros. “We’re only going to ask for the money we need,” explains Cameleon’s new boss. Wise decision.
“I am touched”
In two weeks, the three partners also reviewed the layout of the gallery located at the entrance to the store. A store, baptized Chicory, will offer Belgian products while Vineaste wine will flow. Valentine dormal, a florist, will offer her creations. Finally, Bike 110, an electric bicycle seller should complete the offer.
“In a crisis like this, we didn’t think we would have a project so quickly that would fit into sustainability and rely on all of you.”
“I am touched, because what you do is part of what we stand for. In a crisis like this, we didn’t think we would have a project so quickly that would fit into the durability and that depends on all of you “, pointed out Barbara trachte, the Secretary of State for the Economic Transition, came to greet the workers of Cameleon on this day of official relaunch. “We couldn’t have asked for better, we support you, but we are also looking at you because we will use you to see if this model is duplicable“, concluded Barbara Trachte, before adding that”this year will be the year of flight, this store will take off, it will be fine, that’s for sure “.
The recovery, step by step
Behind Cameleon’s relaunch, there is a story. And we, the stories, we like that. Because bankruptcy is not inevitable, because this restart with the entry of part of the staff into the capital of the company through a self-takeover formula is innovative, we have decided to follow this relaunch, step by step. We will focus on the women and men of Cameleon, the new structures put in place, the steps to follow to get the company out of red and make this new take off. We will interview the new leaders, workers and supporters of this exciting project, we will tell about this transition between the old team and the new one, we will follow each other’s adventures and we will be there for the good and the bad news, closer. And if the adventure comes to an end, it could be inspiring for others and, why not, serve as a model.