PARIS — About 40 employees of Jean Paul Gaultier SAS demonstrated in Paris on Thursday to call attention to proposed job cuts at the fashion house.
This story first appeared in the November 21, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The works council said it “deplores the extent of the reorganization and the number of redundancies, even though the economic situation of the Puig group is excellent.”
Puig, the Spanish fragrance and fashion group, acquired a majority stake in Gaultier in 2011, with the founding designer holding the balance of shares.
Puig’s net income rose 2 percent in 2013 to 176 million euros, or $233.8 million at average exchange for the period, while revenues advanced 1 percent to 1.5 billion euros, or $1.99 billion.
According to the works council, the reorganization plan calls for 29 layoffs, many of them related to the closure of two boutiques and one shop-in-shop in Paris. In addition, 13 positions that are either vacant or occupied by term employees are to be eliminated. The Gaultier company employs about 104 people, the council noted.
Wielding a hand-painted cloth banner and slogans plastered on briefcases and handbags, demonstrators marched from Nina Ricci’s offices on the Avenue Montaigne to Puig headquarters on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
Ralph Toledano, president of the fashion division at Puig, declined all comment on the plan but told WWD: “This is a process. We are in a free country. If people want to make a demonstration, it’s their right, and we respect that.”
Gaultier’s decision to stop rtw and accessories was made in concert with Puig executives following an “in-depth assessment” of the future of the house, as reported.
“We looked at various possibilities, considering the present state of the company, and we have reached the same conclusion,” Gaultier said in September. “This is a new beginning. I will be able to express again my creativity fully and without constraints.”
The madcap designer, exiting rtw after 38 years, lamented the speed of fashion and the associated business pressures, saying it saps creativity and, ultimately, robs consumers of newness.
“Commercial constraints, as well as the frenetic pace of collections, don’t leave any freedom nor the necessary time to find fresh ideas and to innovate,” he wrote in a letter addressed to WWD.
The retrenchment pointed to the challenges faced by midsize players in an era of megabrands with global store networks.
It also suggests that, despite the French designer’s enduring popularity and cult following — underscored by attendance records for his roving retrospective exhibition — the fashion house has struggled to translate his creativity into profits.