PARIS — Le BHV Marais will be the first Paris department store chain to open on Sundays, beginning in July, after a deadline for union negotiations expired at midnight on Thursday, with the majority of labor representatives favorable to the measure.
Other department stores, including Galeries Lafayette, are still negotiating terms with unions following the collapse of collective talks earlier this year. The issue is seen as crucial to enhance the French capital’s attractiveness for tourists, who are coming in smaller numbers since last year’s terrorist attacks.
Le BHV Marais belongs to Galeries Lafayette Group and is in expansion mode after the overhaul of its central Paris flagship and the planned opening of its second overseas unit in September in Dubai’s City Walk mall.
The talks with unions come against a backdrop of renewed nationwide protests, some of them violent, after French President François Hollande’s Socialist government pushed through a labor law overhaul this week with a rarely used executive power.
The government last used the tactic in the lower house of parliament last year when it forced through the wide-ranging economic reform program designed to loosen the rules governing Sunday store opening, among other things.
The law, named after Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, immediately came under attack from retail officials, who said it did not go far enough.
In its final, amended version, it allows stores in so-called international tourist zones to remain open on Sundays and gives mayors elsewhere leeway to authorize up to 12 Sunday openings per year in their cities, up from five previously.
But companies with more than 11 employees must obtain union backing in order to put the law in place, meaning the law has yet to be implemented in department stores.