By  on June 16, 2009

PARIS — Marionnaud Group plans to lay off approximately 700 employees in France, or some 17 percent of its workforce there.

The company said Monday that the move, which involves 659 positions in 370 of its 562 stores and 45 jobs in its head office — but does not include any perfumery closures — is meant to ensure the A.F. Watson Group-owned perfumery chain returns to a consistent level of profitability.

Over the past three years, Marionnaud has lost about 25 million euros, or $34.4 million at current exchange, annually, according to the firm, which added in 2008 there was a slight improvement.

“The very difficult current economic context, added to the severe shrinkage of the market and the resulting intensification of competition, has degraded our position,” stated William Koeberle, chief executive officer of Marionnaud Group.

On Monday, Marionnaud France management presented key parts of a redeployment plan, comprising a strategy to reduce operational costs by 20 percent along with the redundancy plan.

Marionnaud has also budgeted 12 million euros, or $16.5 million, so that 80 percent of its French network can be renovated by the end of this year. The perfumery chain will focus on its relationship with customers, too.

Watson has invested 60 million euros, or $82.5 million, in Marionnaud since the perfumery chain was acquired in 2005.

Earlier this year, Paris Look, the duty-free store Marionnaud owned on Paris’ Boulevard Haussmann that employed 125 people and catered to tourists, was shuttered due to decreased foreigner footfall in the city over the past two years. Paris Look had also been impacted by the financial crisis, although its woes really began about four years ago, when the store experienced steep drops in sales and profits.

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