Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek is providing legal support to the Esprit Group in an ongoing restructuring process with the objective of maintaining operations during the corona crisis, strengthening the group's liquidity and securing the future of the Esprit brand.
The project is being supported by lawyers in particular from Dusseldorf and Munich, with Heuking partners Prof. Dr. Georg Streit and Dr. Marc Scheunemann acting as lead partners.
On 27 March 2020, the Heuking team obtained protective shield proceedings for several of Esprit’s German subsidiaries at the Local Court of Dusseldorf. The German business represents more than half of the Esprit Group’s turnover. Esprit has approximately 2,300 full time equivalent employees in Germany.
The protective shield proceedings help the Esprit Group, particularly in connection with liquidity problems that threaten the entire industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of its shops. The management of the Esprit Group decided to make this proactive and forward-looking step to obtain the protective shields in order to set the course early on for the successful and strengthened re-opening of the Esprit stores after the end of the lockdown. This is intended to secure the future of the Esprit brand. The current management team will retain control of the companies, with the management supported by an experienced self-administrator and a court-appointed custodian. During the three-month protection period, the management team will prepare a restructuring plan which, with the approval of the creditors, will then allow the companies to be restructured.
In addition to providing advice in Germany, the Heuking team, together with partner law firms, manages the legal advice of numerous Esprit companies in Europe, which are closely connected to the German Esprit companies, including in The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland and in several Asian jurisdictions.
Detlef Specovius of Schultze & Braun has been engaged as self-administrator and Dr. Biner Bähr of White & Case has been appointed as custodian. Thomas Bula and Christian Schenk of BBWP prepared the certificates regarding the current solvency and the restructuring prospects, which are required to obtain the protective shields. Baker & McKenzie advises the shareholder.
Fueled by the vision of essential positivity, Esprit was founded in California by couple Susie and Doug Tompkins in 1968. Inspired by the revolutionary spirit of the 60s the brand developed a clear philosophy – always celebrating real people and togetherness, in line with the brand's promise: “We want to make you feel good to look good”. The success story of Esprit is based on two pillars: Delivering joy every day through laid-back tailored, high quality essentials and carefully selected fashion-forward pieces while staying true to its core values of sustainability, equality and freedom of choice. Example: In the early 90ies, long before "Eco Fashion" became fashionable, Esprit debuted its first “ecollection” made of 100% organic cotton and featured its own team instead of models in in honor of their “Real People Campaign.”
Keeping this spirit alive since day one, today Esprit has a presence in 40 countries around the globe. Esprit’s headquarters are located in Germany and Hong Kong, where the brand has been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since 1993.
Esprit – Keeping it easy, comfortable and looking great. Every day. Already hooked? Find out more at www.esprit.com.
Counsel to Esprit Group
Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek:
Prof. Dr. Georg Streit (lead, restructuring), Munich
Dr. Marc Scheunemann, LL.M. (lead, corporate), Düsseldorf/Frankfurt
Dr. Guido Hoffmann, LL.M. (corporate finance), Düsseldorf
Dr. Arnold Büssemaker (restructuring), Munich
Dr. Fabian Bürk, LL.M. (restructuring), Munich
Dr. Kai Uwe Büchler (restructuring), Munich
Dr. Stephan Degen (restructuring / tax), Munich
Sarah Kraft, LL.B. (restructuring), Munich
Prof. Dr. Martin Reufels, LL.M. (labor law), Cologne
Christoph Hexel (labor law), Düsseldorf
Dr. Christian Appelbaum (corporate / commercial), Düsseldorf
Matthias M. Bosbach (corporate finance), Düsseldorf
Dr. Tilman Spancken (real estate), Düsseldorf
Dr. Christoph Gringel (supervisory law), Frankfurt
Dr. Herbert Palmberger (insurance law), Düsseldorf
René Schnichels (insurance law), Düsseldorf