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In debt for $32 million, Garneau files for creditor protection

66 employees have been 'temporarily' laid off.

Louis Garneau, the Quebecois sporting equipment manufacturer, is in $32-million worth of debt and has filed for creditor protection under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The company also announced the “temporary” layoffs of 66 employees at its offices in St-Augustin, Que.

Louis Garneau.

From Canadian Cycling Magazine

The sports goods manufacturer has been in business for 37 years, but is now looking for Quebec investors and a financial director to bail out the company.

36 months ago two of Garneau’s largest European clients declared bankruptcy. The company had been struggling to recover from the blow, and closed its St-Augustin clothing factory last September, laying off 46 employees. They made the announcement that they would be filing for creditor protection on Tuesday.

Garneau told The Montreal Gazette that it believes the protection period will provide sufficient time to restructure its activities.

The founder Louis Garenau said his priority is “to keep the head office in Quebec and maintain as many jobs as possible.”

“I decided with my team to fight and to do everything to keep the business in St-Augustin,” he said. The financial restructuring, he added, will be accompanied by “strategic and operational changes to ensure the profitability of the company in the future.”

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Louis Garneau is a Canadian Olympic cyclist who founded the Garneau brand. The 61 year old became a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1997 and was awarded the Order of Canada in 1999. He founded Louis Garneau in 1983 in his parent’s garage, and managed to grow the brand internationally.

Lionel Sanders wearing his Garneau trisuit and helmet, prepares to get his feet into his Garneau cycling shoes.

While Garneau’s background was cycling, the company is also a big player in the triathlon world. Lionel Sanders is one of the company’s sponsored athletes and, until he signed with Canyon bicycles last year, rode a Garneau triathlon bike in addition to his clothing, cycling shoes and helmet sponsorship.

Other big names who have worn Garneau in the past include three-time Ironman world champion Craig Alexander and Canadian couple Heather and Trevor Wurtele.