PARIS — Galeries Lafayette Group’s department store division — reeling from the coronavirus pandemic — is restructuring its Paris headquarters, likely leading to around 185 job cuts.
The bulk of potential job losses will likely come from the 1,000 or so employees in support functions for the Galeries Lafayette and BHV Marais department stores, noted a company spokesperson, confirming a report on the Fashion Network web site.
The company has just begun negotiations with employee representatives, and layoffs will not likely take place before the spring.
There are currently no plans to close stores.
French retailers have sounded a cautiously optimistic note following the first weekend of store openings after a month of coronavirus lockdowns. They were relieved to reopen at the outset of the holiday spending season and hopeful that consumption will bounce back in December.
The French government’s economic statistics agency Insee is forecasting that GDP will fall 8 percent below pre-crisis levels this month, while household spending will come in at 6 percent below pre-crisis figures. Both areas show marked improvement compared to last spring, when GDP sank to 30 percent below pre-crisis level, and even last month, when the figure was down 12 percent.
Galeries Lafayette’s Boulevard Haussmann rival Printemps last month announced plans to close four of its department stores and three branches of its urban apparel store Citadium, resulting in the loss of 428 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce. The store closures are set to take place over the next year, and the company will seek buyers for the locations it plans to shut.
Retailers in the French capital had already faced a series of challenges before the coronavirus pandemic put international tourism on hold and prompted temporary store closures. The industry has come to rely on deep-pocketed visitors, particularly from Asia, for much of its growth, but yellow-vest protests, transport strikes and terrorist attacks have severely disrupted business in recent years.
In addition to department stores, Galeries Lafayette Group also owns home furnishings and clothing catalogue business La Redoute, jewelry label Mauboussin and multibrand watch retailer Louis Pion.