Vivarte, the group of around 15 clothing and shoe brands, is in exclusive negotiations with Crédit Agricole Private Equity, an investment arm of banking group, Crédit Agricole, to acquire French shoe retailer Beryl.

The family firm was founded in 1930 with Crédit Agricole leading a new shareholder group which took control in 2005.
The Beryl chain currently counts 95 outlets, two of which opened in 2006, in Nîmes and Avignon, in southern France. It employs around 600 staff.

Vivarte's shoe retailing interests already include the André et La Halle aux Chaussures chains.

Vivarte's bid for Beryl follows the acquisition last month of French clothing label Naf Naf and its Chevignon brand.

Last week, the European Commission approved the acquisition of a controlling stake in Vivarte by UK investment fund Charterhouse Capital Partners. Charterhouse is buying the stake from PAI Partners which bought its share of the group in early 2004.

By Stuart Todd.