Lejaby UK in limbo as French firm fights for life

Independent retailers of Lejaby lingerie in the UK are in limbo today after a court hearing in France, which was expected to rule on the stricken company’s future, was postponed.

Brenda Billinge, owner of Bare Necessities, which stocks Lejaby, revealed that she was expecting to receive an announcement on Tuesday evening regarding the company’s fate. By Wednesday, there had still been no news.

Calls on Wednesday to Lejaby’s London office were directed straight to voicemail, as were calls to the mobile phone and direct line of the company’s UK country manager, Kathleen Morgan.

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Bare Necessities and other Lejaby retailers in the UK had received a letter instructing them to direct all stock orders to the French office. A limited order placed by the Derbyshire boutique for Lejaby’s spring range remains undelivered.

Staff at Lejaby’s Lyon factory staged a demonstration on Wednesday urging the company not to shut down the operation or relocate their work to any future buyer of the business.

The industrial action comes a month after speculation surfaced in December that there are two potential buyers of Lejaby. One is a consortium comprising the company’s Tunisian sub-contractor, Isalys; Christian Bugnon, the son of Lejaby’s former owner; Alain Prost, a former CEO of La Perla; and Itlaian investment fund fund Fiduciaria San Babila. The other is French nighwear specialist Canat. Both have promised to retain between 150-200 Lejaby employees.

Lejaby’s management team has also voiced its desire to buy the company as a going concern. Stephane Joannes, the company’s commercial director, told French media that she can keep production in France and safeguard jobs. “We must keep these jobs in France, otherwise we will eventually see all manufacturing move to China and our skills will be lost forever," she said.

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