162 Boulevard de Fourmies
Telephone: (+33 3) 28 33 99 33
Web site: http://www.idgroup.com
Sales: €950 million ($1.09 billion) (2017)
NAICS: 448130 Children's and Infants' Clothing Stores
IDKids.community SA (IDKids) is an international operating retail group focused on the youth market, especially preadolescent children. Based in Roubaix, France, the company operates in three primary divisions: Products, Services, and Content and Counsel. The Products division is the company's largest, encompassing its range of retail formats. These include the company flagship and children's clothing retailer Okaïdi. Other retail brands include Obaïbi, a clothing chain for babies aged zero to five; Jacadi Paris, an upscale children's clothing retailer; and Oxybul Éveil et Jeux, which specializes in innovative and educational children's toys. IDKids also operates a chain of more than 20 multiformat IDKids stores, regrouping the company's retail formats under a single roof.
Altogether, IDKids operates more than 1,260 stores in 70 countries, with 516 stores in France. IDKids' other businesses include Rigolo Comme la Vie, a chain of day care centers operated as a social enterprise. Other companies in the Services division include N'Joy and Cmabulle. The company's Content and Counsel division includes Bubble, a magazine published four times per year; the Joy Vox music and media label, and Consobaby, a website that provides advice for parents. Although cofounders Jean Duforest and Jean-Luc Souflet remain active in IDKids operations, the company is led by CEO Eric Vandendriessche.
The company eventually known as IDKids.community was founded in 1996 by Duforest and Souflet, boyhood friends who met as members of the French Boy Scouts. Of the two, Duforest, whose father was CEO of a textiles company, had the most direction connection to the French clothing industry. Although Duforest, an art school graduate, had originally intended to pursue a career of an artist, he traded in his paintbrushes for more reliable employment after the birth of his first child. Duforest went to work for French supermarket powerhouse Auchan, owned by the Mulliez family. Duforest quickly rose through the ranks, becoming an executive at another Mulliez company, Kiabi, a discount clothing retailer. In 1984, however, Duforest left the Auchan group and teamed up with Jean-Pierre Torck and two other former Auchan executives to found a new clothing retailer, Camaïeu.
Camaïeu's strategy, however, of deploying its cash flow to fuel its expansion brought the company to a crashing halt in 1995 amid a sudden downturn in French consumer spending. Forced to borrow in order to continue its expansion projects, the company continued to struggle in the poor consumer climate. By the end of 1995 Camaïeu was forced to throw in the towel and, under pressure from its creditors, agreed to split into three parts. While Torck maintained control of the larger women's clothing operations, the Mulliez family took over Camaïeu Homme. Duforest, joined by Souflet, whose had spent his early career as an engineer, bought the small Camaïeu Enfant division in 1996.
Duforest and Souflet went to work reviving the chain's flagging operations. With 30 stores, and 100 employees, Camaïeu Enfant was losing money. Inspired by their years with the Boy Scouts, Duforest and Souflet set out to create a company with a social conscience, one dedicated to improving society, while also benefiting from renewing consumer demand for children's clothing.
By 2000 the pair had refined their sales concept, and relaunched the company's retail operations under a new brand name, Okaïdi, and a new company name, Okaïdi S.A. The name evoked a Boy Scout song from Duforest's and Souflet's youth, with its refrain of “you-kaïdi, youkaïda.” Okaïdi also represented a construction of sorts, combining the universality of “OK” with part of aïe, the French word for “ouch,” meant to underscore the idea of mistakes as part of the learning process, and dit, from the French verb for “to say,” as part of the company's social commitment to children's education and well-being.
In any event, Okaïdi's format was quickly embraced not only by French consumers but by international parents as well. Okaïdi started its international expansion in 2001 and by 2004 had already entered 22 countries, primarily through franchise agreements. The company had already grown to 350 stores by then, and had added a second retail format, Obaïbi, specializing in clothing for children from 0 to 5 years old, introduced in 2002. In that year, Okaïdi put into place its own logistics platform, with a dedicated distribution depot for each of its two brands.
The following year the company also made good on its social commitment, launching an association, Okworld, dedicated to financing and promoting child welfare projects around the world. Many of these projects focused on children in the countries from which Okaïdi sourced most of its clothing. Back in France, in 2005, Okaïdi created a nonprofit association, Rigolo Comme la Vie, which established a day care center, initially for company employees and others in the neighborhood. The success of the center later encouraged the company to expand the concept to other locations, primarily in northern France.
Okaïdi completed its first acquisition in 2005, taking over upscale children's clothing chain Jacadi. That company had been founded by Patrick and Christina Hamelle in 1976 as a ready-to-wear line for children aged 0 to 12. The company took its name from the children's game Jacques à Dit (the French equivalent to Simon Says). By 1983 Jacadi had launched its own international expansion, starting with a boutique in Switzerland. The company added a footwear collection two years later and opened its first store in the United States the same year. Faced with growing competition, notably from mid-priced children's clothing leader Du Pareil au Même, Jacadi launched a second, midpriced format, Dipaki. The launch of the new brand came at the height of the same consumer crisis that had crippled Camaïeu, and Jacadi found itself on the verge of bankruptcy in 1996. By the time of its acquisition by Okaïdi, however, Jacadi had returned to good health, in part by refocusing around its core high-end market.
Okaïdi added a second acquisition in 2005, of Véronique Delachaux, a retail chain specializing in maternity clothing. In order better to reflect its new status as a multibrand retail operator, the Okaïdi company changed its name in 2005, becoming IDGroup. The name was partly inspired by the launch of Okaïdi's highly successful signature clothing line in 2004, called Good ˙D (pronounced similar to idée, the French word for “idea”).
While remaining true to its roots in the children's market, IDGroup expanded beyond clothing, starting with the purchase of a small toy retailer, Oxybul, in 2008. This was followed by a much larger purchase, that of French educational toy retailer Éveil et Jeux. That company had been founded in 1989 by Margaret Milan, a native of Aberdeen, Scotland, who earned a degree from Harvard Business School before settling in France. Milan worked for Procter & Gamble for seven years, then, following the birth of her daughter, decided to go into business for herself. Milan found inspiration from her frustration in finding interesting and educational toys for her daughter in France. This led her to establish Éveil et Jeux, roughly translatable as “education and toys,” as a catalog-based business initially located in the garage of her home. Joined by husband Gilbert Milan, Margaret Milan quickly established the company as a leader in the French educational toys market. This position attracted the attention of French luxury and media conglomerate PPR, which had taken over French retail cultural products icon Fnac. Milan agreed to a buyout by PPR in 1998, and Éveil et Jeux was placed under the direction of Fnac's own youth division, Fnac Junior.
The purchase at first appeared to benefit Éveil et Jeux, which launched its website in 1999. The company's sales took off, especially after it began opening its first retail stores. By 2007 the company had 40 stores operating through France. During this time, however, Fnac attempted to merge Éveil et Jeux's operations with those of Fnac Junior. The two formats, however, proved less than compatible and, as Éveil et Jeux's sales dropped off, the company brought back Margaret and Gilbert Milan to take over the division and rebuild its sagging business.
By the time of Éveil et Jeux's takeover by IDGroup, the Milans had largely succeeded in revitalizing the business, which refocused on its core of educational and unusual toys and other items. Following the acquisition, Éveil et Jeux merged with Oxybul, becoming Oxybul Éveil et Jeux. Margaret Milan remained at the head of the toy business after joining IDGroup, and began working on plans to double the brand's retail network, including opening its first international location, by 2011.
IDGroup entered the decade with more than 1,000 stores in 61 countries. While Okaïdi, and its sister brand Obaïbi, remained the group's largest operation, at 700 stores, the Jacadi and Véronique Delachaux chains had also grown strongly, with a combined 300 stores. The company laid plans for even stronger expansion, announcing its intention to open 120 new shops in 2011, including 90 locations outside of France. The company also expected to benefit from Éveil et Jeux's experience in internet sales, which accounted for half of its sales. In 2011 the company launched an online shop for the Jacadi brand as well.
In that year, Duforest and Souflet, both in their 70s by then, began to prepare their succession. The pair brought in Vandendriessche to lead the company's retail division and appointed dedicated managing directors to each of the company's subsidiaries. Vandendriessche, who had previously worked with Auchan and had also held positions at Camaïeu before its breakup, became the heir apparent to take over as head of the group. This took place in 2016, when Vandendriessche was appointed the company's CEO.
The Okaïdi clothing line continued to expand, as the company formed partnerships with a growing number of noted clothing designers. These included Matali Crasset, in 2013, and Ora ˙to in 2014. In another example of its ongoing social commitment, the company also teamed up with SOS Préma to develop and market the Newborns collection of clothing for premature infants in 2010. The company also revamped the Véronique Delachaux line with the launch of the OB'Mum collection in 2013.
IDGroup launched a new website, idkids.com , as a central site providing access to all of the company's brands. The company soon extended the IDKids brand as a retail format in its own right. IDKids became a multibrand format featuring the Okaïdi, Obaïbi, Jacadi, and Oxybul Éveil et Jeux, as well as partner brands including Lego and Playmobil. The stores also hosted educational activities, such as craft workshops. This latter activity was boosted in 2016 by the purchase of M'Animations, a company specializing in developing children's educational and entertainment workshops and courses. The new subsidiary was renamed as N'Joy.
IDGroup continued to roll out new services as well. In 2017 the company launched the ConsoBaby website, providing product and information for parents of young children. The company also acquired Cmabulle, a childoriented ride-sharing service. In the meantime, the company responded to the growing success of the IDKids retail chain, which had more than 40 locations by 2018, by changing its own name to IDKids. In 2018 the company extended the name in order to underscore its social commitment, becoming IDKids.community SA. By that time, IDKids had expanded to nearly 1,300 stores in 70 countries, with plans to open another 160 locations by the end of 2018. With sales of €950 million, IDGroup looked forward to further extensions to its child-oriented brand family.
M. L. Cohen
Content and Counsel; Products; Services.
C and A France SCS; Celio France S.A.S.; Kiabi Europe S.A.S.; Kidiliz Group; La Halle S.A.; Tati SA; Vetir S.A. S.; Vivarte S.A.S.; Zara France Sarl.
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