Private equity fund L Capital is backing French fashion labels like Sandro.

Private equity fund L Capital is backing French fashion labels like Sandro.

Private equity fund L Capital, which is owned by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault and his family and Florac, has taken a 51% stake in SMCP, the holding company of rising French fashion labels Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot.

The arrival of the new investors is designed to facilitate the development of the labels abroad.

Sandro and Maje’s two founders, as well as the managers of SMCP, will retain the remaining 49% of the company’s capital and continue to hold the labels’ management reins.

Enjoying an established presence in corners of French department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, Printemps and Bon Marché, Sandro and Maje are also developing their own network of stores. In the past five years they have opened around 60 stores a year, including 75 new outlets in 2009.

They are commonly viewed as ‘alternative’ labels whose market positioning is situated midway between Zara and H&M and the luxury brands.

SMCP, which acquired Claudie Pierlot last year, is posting an annual growth rate in its business of around 30%. Employing 700 staff and operating some 338 stores, it expects to generate a 2010 turnover of EUR180m (US$236.4m).

Last week, in Angoulême, in western France, SMCP inaugurated the first store in a new retail concept, Suite 341 (Three-for-one), bringing the three labels under the same roof.