As indicated in the last issue of EWI, an equity fund has acquired a major share in the French eyewear design company alongside Dominique Alba, the former general manager and part owner of Logo. It's a London-based investment fund, Neo Capital, that has been involved until now in food, high technologies and telecommunication.

Alain Mikli International had a loss of €300,000 on revenues of €53 million in the financial year ended last Sept. 30, and its sales are expected to decline this year by about 10 percent as its operations are being reorganized completely under the management of Alba, who joined the company last January.

With low equity and debt of €4 million, the company was under-funded and risked a collapse several times before. Through an equity increase, whose value could not be determined, Neo Capital has acquired a stake of 47 percent in the company. Alain Mikli himself will keep a similar share of 47 percent and concentrate on the creative side and on communication. Alba will run the company, holding the remaining stake of 6 percent.

The refinancing is intended to help Mikli expand further abroad ? targeting especially the U.K., the U.S. and China ? and to develop its own chain of stores. Separate sales forces will take care of the Alain Mikli and Philippe Starck brands in the future, starting with the French, Italian and Spanish markets. Mikli's wife, Florence Dehaine, was in charge of sales at group level, but she left the company one month ago

Mikli has a new sales manager for the French market alone, Philippe Dine. A customer service specialist has joined the company and another executive in charge of the supply chain is due to come on board after the summer.

Sales have not improved much at the company in the last four years or so, but this is expected to change. The new set-up should ensure continuity of management at Mikli, where its previous controlling shareholders often made unexpected decisions without informing top officials, including a couple of general managers who ran the company for a while. Dominique Pohu held the job for two years and left at the beginning of 2005. The last one, François de la Ménahéze, lasted only six months and left at the beginning of 2008. Many other managers have left the company in the past years.