PARIS — Ailing French retail group Vivarte said it plans to lay off 1,481 employees at its various chains. The cuts include 1,344 jobs at La Halle, 105 at André and 32 at Kookaï.

Out of 608 stores, 197 stores are to be shuttered, including 23 transferred to other banners of the group.

The footwear brand André will lay off 10 percent of its staff, while at Kookaï cuts will mostly be in support functions. Workers in La Halle stores, logistics and headquarters are the most affected.

The strategy for La Halle consists in focusing on high potential stores, and repositioning on the low-end segment to appeal to the brand’s core family-oriented and suburban clientele, a spokesman told WWD.

Another axis of the group’s strategy is to develop e-commerce across brands, he added.

The apparel and footwear specialist, whose stable of brands also includes Caroll, Naf Naf, Chevignon, Minelli and Cosmoparis, employs some 20,000 employees and counts about 4,500 stores.

The group has been battling a morose economic climate, with an all-out effort to renovate and reinvigorate its key banners.

It is understood that sales dropped 10 percent in fiscal 2014 to 2.7 billion euros, or $3.63 billion at average exchange rates.

Last year, Vivarte reached an agreement with its creditors to reduce its debt by 2 billion euros, or $2.7 billion at current exchange, under a restructuring deal that will see ownership switch to a group of 12 lenders.

The new owners ousted Marc Lelandais as chairman and chief executive officer and replaced him with Richard Simonin in October 2014.

After it informed the unions of the three social plans on Tuesday, the group will enter a “consultation phase” with social partners, according to the spokesman.

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