A few years ago, the names of entrepreneurs Yakov Panchenko, Eduard Kitsenko, his wife Polina and were already mentioned all together in business news. Now, in the new economic context, their difficult relationship has again spilled into the media space, gone into the second round. But new names and new companies have appeared in today’s texts.
The Lamoda online retailer (affordable prices, appropriate quality, free delivery) was founded by entrepreneurs from Germany in 2011 and operates in the markets of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. At the same time, the international holding Global Fashion Group (GFG), registered in Luxembourg, was founded. The holding, in addition to Lamoda, also includes other online platforms operating in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
In the spring, after the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, the company suspended investments in Lamoda and announced the suspension of the construction of the online retailer’s second warehouse in Russia. But the online store continues to work. In October, it became known that the company was being bought by businessman Yakov Panchenko. All the news clarified: the same Panchenko, who owns the Russian “Stockmann”.
According to the results of the first half of 2022, the turnover of Lamoda in Russia increased by 44.2%, to 47.3 billion rubles. According to experts, the fair value of the online retailer’s business could be at least €500 million. However, the actual amount of the transaction, according to Panchenko, was about €95 million “in addition to the value of cash held in the Lamoda business.”
In December last year, the deal for the sale of Lamoda was closed. Lamoda employs about 8 thousand people, these are employees of the central office in Moscow, offices in Minsk and Almaty, an automated warehouse complex in Bykovo near Moscow, and a delivery service.
Panchenko promised: “The company will continue its development without significant strategic and operational changes in activities … I have no plans to change the team – it will have all the opportunities to develop in the company after the transaction. The management team will not change either.”
Almost simultaneously with this news, the business press remembered the name of Eduard Panchenko in connection with a case that seemed to have ended a long time ago. In December 2015, the Finnish department store chain Stockmann announced the sale of all its Russian stores to the Russian franchisee of the British department stores Debenhams, Debruss. The co-owner of Debruss with a 70% share was the Russian businessman Yakov Panchenko (son of academician Vladislav Panchenko, chairman of the board of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research).
This was preceded by lawsuits for 74.5 million rubles: several Russian designers at once turned to the heads of the fashion retailer Podium Market, the Kitsenko spouses, with a demand to pay off debts to clothing and accessories manufacturers. In 2017, Stockmann, which became Moscow, acquired Podium Market stock and equipment, the right to use the company’s trademarks, and four of its outlets located in Moscow (European and Fashion Season shopping centers), Kazan (Pushkinsky business center). ) and Krasnodar (Shopping Center “Oz Mall”).
The new owners were going to remake all outlets in “Stockmann”. But since it was still not possible to do this quickly, we decided to see how viable the Podium Market brand itself is. Part of department stores has been preserved with the former name. A year later, Panchenko concluded: “We have decided that we will neither buy out this brand nor renew the license to use it.” Stockmann refused to develop Podium Market department stores, and the former owner of Podium Market, Eduard Kitsenko, accused Stockmann of violating the terms of the purchase of this brand from him.
In 2018, the offended Podium Market was renamed into IPK Atlas and declared bankruptcy (at the end of 2021, a loss of 117 million rubles was declared). And the bankruptcy trustee went to court, conducted an examination, and the examination estimated the value of the assets sold by Stockmann at 1.7 billion rubles. Stockmann CEO Gennady Levkin describes the situation as follows: “In 2017, we received a proposal from the owner of Podium Market, Eduard Kitsenko, to consider the possibility of buying out some share of this business, since at that time Podium Market was experiencing difficulties in paying debt obligations. We considered it possible to buy retail equipment and leftover goods, rent a brand for a year with the possibility of further redemption or refusal, and paid 105 million rubles for this. Without a doubt, this deal was commercially interesting for us.
Now, an examination ordered by the court and conducted by the Roseco appraisal company (one employee, zeros in financial statements) made an incorrect assessment from Levkin’s point of view, because “it was based on some management assumptions about future income that Podium Market could earn. These incomes were absolutely fantastic, calculated with multiple gains from year to year for five years, and, of course, no one makes estimates like that. We still believe we paid an absolutely fair price.”
However, recently the Moscow Arbitration Court, in the framework of the bankruptcy case of the Atlas investment and production company, invalidated the five-year-old deal to sell it to Stockmann.
As follows from the materials of the court, Stockmann must pay the company an astronomical amount of 1.69 billion rubles. At the same time, the court ruling says that the retailer, in turn, will now be able to receive this money from the heir, the bankrupt IPK Atlas. The Moscow arbitration thus returned both companies to their original state – as before the deal.
And last summer, against the backdrop of these litigations, gossip columns were stirred up by memories of unpaid debts, and former employees and Podium Market partners who consider themselves deceived declared their readiness to sue Polina Kutsenko. All this was supplemented by the cries of the journalist Ksenia Sobchak and the wife of Eduard Kitsenko Polina to each other. First, both ladies – who were once friends, lit up at the Running Hearts charity marathon. As a result of the squabble, Sobchak in her personal Telegram channel mentioned “other people’s misappropriated merits” and hinted at financial frauds, in which, in her opinion, Kitsenko could be involved: “about the fact that in 2017 Eduard Kitsenko (your husband) came to Yakov Panchenko (Stockmann) and borrowed 100 thousand dollars from him … I wonder what crumbs the fund will receive, because the only one who benefits from any events is always only Polina herself … And do not believe the excuses “I was not involved to the leadership of the Podium. Even as it was. Don’t give her money, don’t trust her, run, run.”
What a rich and varied life people have. Now a court, then a party with smiles and scandals …