PARIS — French retailer Printemps said Tuesday that it plans to close four of its department stores and three branches of its urban apparel store Citadium, entailing the loss of 428 jobs, or 14 percent of its workforce, as part of a restructuring plan in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Forced to shutter its stores for the second time this year as a result of France’s latest lockdown, which came into effect on Oct. 30, Printemps has decided to permanently close a department store in Paris, at Place d’Italie, in addition to branches in Le Havre, Strasbourg and Metz.
In addition, the retailer will close the Citadium stores on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and in the Nation district in Paris, as well as in the southern French city of Toulon. Printemps also plans to resize and pool certain support tasks.
No permanent staffers will be let go before July 2021, and the store closures will take place between now and January 2022, a spokeswoman for Printemps said. She added that the retailer will seek buyers for the locations it has decided to shut.
French retailers have been hit by a succession of setbacks over the last five years, including terrorist attacks, the “gilets jaunes” anti-government protests, a transport strike and drastic government measures designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Printemps revealed the cost-cutting plan just weeks after naming Jean-Marc Bellaiche, an executive with a strong background in data, as chief executive officer. Bellaiche took over on Oct. 1, six months after Paolo de Cesare’s sudden departure following a 13-year run.
The company said the restructuring was designed to stem losses, adapt to market conditions and guarantee its survival in the long-term. Printemps plans to invest in its digital and omnichannel services; “reinvent the retail experience” and reinforce the differentiation of its offer, and redevelop its client base.
“In total, we plan to invest more than 40 million euros per year on these topics in the next two to three years,” the company said in a statement.
De Cesare oversaw extensive renovations and an upscaling drive at Printemps, which was acquired 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.
Printemps did not say whether it has altered plans for international expansion as a result of the challenging market conditions. The retailer previously said it intends to open its first overseas store by early 2021, as part of a planned expansion that will result in the opening of five to 10 new units worldwide in the next decade.
The company pledged to provide assistance to all the employees affected by its cost-cutting plan, including help with finding new jobs, training, relocation assistance or support in setting up their own businesses.
Printemps has 19 department stores in France and eight Citadium stores, employing a total of 3,000 people. Following the acquisition of French fashion e-commerce site Place des Tendances in 2013 and online homewares retailer Made in Design in 2019, it launched a luxury fashion web site in March, just before the first lockdown came into effect.