Parisian trade show Tranoï looking for new partners
The crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is turning out to be an accelerator of change. The fashion trade show sector has been especially affected, its January sessions having been heavily disrupted and many June events cancelled. Against this backdrop, and while doubts about the main autumn events still persist, industry operators are forced to evolve.
One of them is long-established and internationally renowned Parisian trade show Tranoï, which needs to reinvent itself at very short notice. Boris Provost, who has been in charge of the event and its staff of 17 since September 2019, is currently busy seeking new financial partners. On April 15, Provost applied for and was granted a protection procedure for the company, allowing its debts to be frozen.
“We contacted our suppliers, all of them partners rather than simply contractors, to explain the situation. They are GL Events, Magnum, Viparis, the Atelier Richelieu, Houlala, Pauwel, Event maker and Trive - I wish to mention them because they all showed their support, for which I thank them. We regard them as our future partners. We chose to apply for a protection procedure to enable us to navigate the crisis and bounce back. Apparently, rumours about our circumstances have been circulating. It’s important for me to say that this is in no way a liquidation, and that the company will continue to do business,” said Provost.
He also emphasised that the transformation projects he began to implement at Tranoï are still on the cards. Filing for court protection was simply necessary for the company to turn the corner.
“The trade court’s ruling enables us to safeguard our business, projects and jobs. A year ago, Armand Hadida and Patrick Lecêtre [Tranoï’s shareholders, together with the HLD group], asked me to lead a change in company governance and to reposition Tranoï on the market. It was this challenge that prompted me to come on board. Our road map provided for a transformation, and for the possibility for [Hadida and Lecêtre] to exit the company in the next two to four years. Due to the pandemic’s impact on recent shows, the lack of clarity about the forthcoming editions, and the need for an injection of liquidity, they have decided they can no longer back the company,” said Provost.
He therefore began to look for new financial partners. According to him, Hadida and Lecêtre are not planning to maintain their stake in the company, while negotiations are under way with HLD for the latter to remain as minority shareholder.
Provost is very busy seeking new investors, and said that “talks are under way, and there are a number of possibilities: from French and international trade show organisers, to digital companies, which would contribute useful tech expertise, to investment funds in a variety of shapes and sizes. We are very confident. Our vision is to team up with partners for the medium and long term, with men and women keen to get involved and whose know-how is complementary to that of our existing staff, so that we can collectively transform our services in order to ensure a return on our clients’ investments.”
Provost didn’t specify the kind of outlay new investors would have to make. To attract them, and to consolidate the business, Tranoï wants to make progress in three directions: organising clearly positioned events that ensure a stream of quality visitors for exhibitors, digitalising the business, and internationalising it. In terms of digital innovation, while competitors like Man/Woman and Welcome Edition have announced they will go live with their online platforms during June, Provost is working on getting Tranoï’s new solution ready for the first fortnight in June. It is designed to allow exhibitors and visitors to stay in touch, and to foster a thriving community over the course of the seasons.
As for internationalisation plans, Tranoï is keen to bounce back in China, where it already made a move recently. “We are working on a project tailor-made for the Chinese environment. It is a market where business is likely to recover quickly. We need to offer flexible solutions to exhibitors, to help them make the most of new opportunities,” said Provost.
But there is still a big question mark on physical shows, and much uncertainty about next September's editions. This of course weighs heavily on show organisers’ plans. “I’m lucky to have a highly motivated team. We have received expressions of solidarity from our exhibitors. We contacted them with a questionnaire designed to fine-tune our services. We have notified the venues and we would like to be able to stage the next edition of Tranoï, scheduled on October 2-5, even if we’re aware it will be a peculiar one. But we will only be able to hold a physical show if we are sure that exhibitors and visitors will be able to attend, and that we can guarantee the necessary health precautions for them. I would not risk involving struggling exhibitors in an event with no visitor traffic,” said Provost.
To reassure exhibitors, Provost added that, even though time is tight, Tranoï’s new pool of investors will be announced in the summer. Depending on who they are, this might step up the development pace of some of Tranoï’s projects.
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