PARIS — In a sign that economic tensions are rising along with the expanding coronavirus health-care crisis, Printemps has sent a letter to suppliers seeking to reassure them that it would do its best to ensure timely payments — after being publicly singled out by the government.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire named the French department store in a tweet Friday, saying Printemps committed to meeting payment deadlines.
“@Printemps has pledged to me that it will uphold its commitments to suppliers and respect payment deadlines, conforming to the law. In these exceptional circumstances, the state will ensure the strict respect of public economic order,” the minister tweeted.
Printemps sent a letter to suppliers on Saturday, explaining that a previously communicated suspension of all outstanding payments to suppliers was only temporary.
“We would like to inform you that this suspension is only temporary, during the time necessary to set up action plans that will allow us to manage the temporary closure of our stores while respecting our commitments. We are deploying all of our energy to make sure that this period of incertitude is as short as possible,” read the Printemps letter, signed by financial director Eric Lovisolo.
The government has toughened its language on the subject in recent days and Agnès-Pannier Runacher, state secretary for economy and finance at the French finance ministry, said Monday in an online presentation that the ministry will be vigilant when it comes to payment delays to suppliers. It would be unacceptable for companies to hoard cash to pay employees while the government has implemented a system of partial unemployment designed to keep systems in place despite the disruption, she said, explaining that the French government wants to maintain ties between employees and companies so the economy can pick up faster when business begins to return.
The group launched its e-commerce site on March 12, with an inclusive, fashion-forward bent.
Printemps abruptly dismissed chief executive officer Paolo de Cesare earlier this month, and has not replaced the executive, who had overseen a multiyear, 100-million-euro renovation of the department store chain’s Paris flagship, which included an overhaul of its beauty space and the addition of a food hall on an upper floor.
Printemps was purchased in 2013 by Divine Investments SA, a Luxembourg-based investment fund backed by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former emir of Qatar, whose other properties include London department store Harrods and Italian fashion label Valentino.