LONDON — Lanvin, France’s oldest surviving couture house, which has been teetering on the brink of collapse for more than two years, has been acquired by a major Chinese private conglomerate after a fierce bidding war, the Chinese company announced on Thursday.
The conglomerate, Fosun International, said it had acquired a majority stake in the Paris-based Lanvin, which has been racked by the departures of designers, tumbling sales and entrenched internal discord. Fosun beat out Mayhoola for Investments, a fund backed by the Qatari royal family that owns brands like Balmain and Valentino.
“As China becomes the main growth driver of the global luxury market, we are confident that Fosun can bring great incremental value to Lanvin with our global resources and expertise, while being absolutely committed to Lanvin’s high luxury positioning,” said Joann Cheng, vice chief financial officer of Fosun International.
The deal is the latest by Chinese investors looking to build stakes in European luxury assets. This month, the Chinese textile and garment producer Shandong Ruyi agreed to buy a controlling stake in the Swiss leather brand Bally, two years after its 2016 acquisition of SMCP, which owns the brands Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot, for 1.3 billion euros (about $1.6 billion).
Shandong Ruyi also owns the British trench-coat brand Aquascutum, and has bought a controlling stake in Hong Kong men’s wear group Trinity, the owner of bespoke suit makers Gieves & Hawkes.
Neither Lanvin nor Fosun would disclose financial details for their transaction. The expectation, however, is that Fosun will put a minimum of €100 million ($122.77 million) into the ailing house, much of which would cover outstanding losses and unpaid salaries.
The Chinese conglomerate, which is controlled by the billionaire Guo Guangchang and owns the French tourism group Club Med, along with the brands Folli Follie, St. John and Caruso, recently entered into acquisition talks with the Italian lingerie brand La Perla.
Lanvin’s current owner and president, Shaw-Lan Wang, who is based in Taiwan and previously held 75 percent of the company, will lose control and become a minority shareholder. The Swiss businessman Ralph Bartel will retain a minority stake.
Until this week, the fortunes of Lanvin had been in a desperate state. Founded by Jeanne Lanvin in 1889, the house had enjoyed a 21st-century revival during the 14-year tenure of the creative director Alber Elbaz, who had forged a loyal client base with collections full of shimmering, jewel-toned cocktail frocks and velvet tuxedos.
But after the acrimonious ousting of Mr. Elbaz by Ms. Wang in October 2015, the company quickly tipped into chaos, with the departure triggering walkouts and the workers’ council suing Lanvin’s management.
A second creative director, Bouchra Jarrar, lasted just 16 months, while a debut collection in September by the brand’s latest hire, Olivier Lapidus, who had outlined his intention to turn Lanvin into the “French Michael Kors,” received dire reviews.
A write-up by the chief fashion critic at The New York Times, Vanessa Friedman, was headlined “How to Wreck a Brand in 3 Years.”
Predictably, Lanvin’s sales plummeted. In 2016, revenues fell 23 percent to €162 million and the company posted its first loss in more than a decade, of €18.3 million.
Hungry investors had circled Lanvin before, spying an opportunity to grow a brand whose financial performance had never quite matched the luxury halo it possessed in a buoyant market.
In 2014, for example, Ms. Wang rejected a bid by Mayhoola of around €400 million euros.