forty employees of Vivarte demonstrated on Thursday in front of Bercy, where were received the trade unions in the group. ( AFP / GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT )
Vivarte employed 17,000 people in France in 2016 (“the 14,000 to 15,000,” according to trade union figures, after the last transfer). The group is in trouble for years. Several strategies have been initiated since 2014, in vain. Last October, the board of directors of the group of clothing and footwear landed his boss, Stéphane Maquaire, to be replaced by Patrick Puy, a specialist in the rehabilitation of companies in difficulty. The latter had confirmed the continuation of the asset disposal plan initiated by his predecessor, raising fears of the unions a dismantling of the group. In fact, he had announced in the wake of the sale of a hundred shops the market to The shoes. The unions are concerned, in particular, the future of André. In November, the leadership spoke of three possible scenarios for the brand of shoes : a bankruptcy filing, a sale, or continued the activity, with 55 stores in less (135).
A store André in Nantes April 7, 2015. The trade unions of the group Vivarte worried about the future of the brand of shoes. ( AFP / GEORGES GOBET )
It is to mention this future jealous that unions in the group have been received on Thursday by the cabinet of Christophe Sirugue, the secretary of State for Industry, while a quarantine of employees protested in front of Bercy. “They share our findings, but don’t actually have the levers. They told us basically we will not help you’ and ‘good luck’”, a summary Gérald Gautier (FO), which is expressed at the end of the meeting on behalf of all unions present, “very disappointed”. The organizations were seeking in particular to the government to put pressure on management to preserve the employment, in the light of state aid affected by the group (€40 million CICE tax credit for competitiveness and employment) and reductions in expenses, according to FO). Now, the unions are planning to present an “alternative project” to the CEO Patrick Puy, who should make announcements before the end of the month, in committee of the group.
According to a spokesperson of the secretariat of State, the government had responded “favourably” to the “demand” of trade unions “to pass on the message to their management and their shareholders,” promising to “remind” the need for a “social dialogue copy and really transparent”.
After the announcement in September of the sale of 97 stores The Halle aux shoes, on sale in the summer of the brands Kookaï, Chevignon and Pataugas, which have found no takers to date, and the assignment of Challenge Mode and of the Company vosges of the shoe (CVC), the unions fear the sale of the brand André (approximately 800 employees). However, the group denied Thursday to the AFP any attempt to sell the brand of shoes. A central committee business was scheduled for Friday morning at the headquarters of André in Paris. “The wait is difficult, in the absence of precise announcements on the part of management,” summarises Gérard Gautier, according to which “70% of employees are part-time” and “80% of women, often isolated, who live with 700 euros per month and are at risk of ending up on the street”.
Mid-November, the new CEO of the group had referred to the difficulties of the brand André, in announcing the closure of five years of 55 stores, representing almost one third, according to the CGT. According to Gérard Gautier, FO, the group “is still in operating earnings,” but it is “strangled by financial debt” valued at over one billion euros, according to sources. “The erasure of 800 million euros of debt could soon lead” in the context of negotiations with creditors, “but it will remain 700 million euros” and “no expert believes that the company can support them”, according to Karim Cheboub (CGT). He denounces the “sub-investment”, “poor management” and a “price increase”. In 2014, a first renegotiation of the debt was made at the price of a heavy restructuring on the social level, with the launch in 2015 of four social plans.
For Philip Dessains (CFDT), secretary of the CEC Andre, three scenarios are possible for the sign : “a bankruptcy filing, a continuation of the activity with 60 to 80 shops maximum (compared with 135 currently) or the sale”. “It is to be expected, according to him, in a big restructuring that will not affect that Andre and could also affect Minelli and San Marina”, the losses of which are “also very high”. It evokes the possible “transfer of employees and of stores” between brands. Philippe Dessains fears the layoffs of at least 250 employees, or one-third of the workforce” chez André, whose debts reach, according to him, about “55 million euros over the last three years”.