The French luxury shoe industry has suffered a major blow with the bankruptcy of two of the best known names. Managers at Stephan Kélian in Romans, south-east France, have told its 143 workers that it has finally succumbed to the problems that have dogged it since 2002 when it went into receivership . It was recently bought by a Belgian investment group and the company said, with debts of three million euros, it cannot go on making shoes in France. Union representative Eric Potel responded: “We’ve been taken over by a new group that doesn’t want to produce in France. They bought the shops and the Kélian brand, but want to just be financial investors.It is the same story at Charles Jourdan, which is based nearby. It has filed for bankruptcy putting the jobs of 432 people under threat. The company’s unions say they have been told it has debts of nine million euros. Last year it moved manufacturing of handbags overseas. Following the two announcements, the president of the French Shoemakers’ Federation, Patrick Moniotte, said he fears for the industry’s future in France with a loss of know-how and the ability to develop products.
Two of top French luxury shoe makers in financial trouble