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La Halle Closes its Main store in Paris

La Halle is to close its Flagship store in Paris
La Halle is about to close its main store in Paris in late October – Thomas Oliva AFP

The brand La Halle (group Vivarte), which is the subject of a major …

The brand La Halle (group Vivarte), which is the subject of a major social plan since spring, is about to close its flagship store in Paris and less than half of the 190 outlets could remain open, subject to a recovery, according to unions.

On the walls of the store on the Boulevard Montmartre in Paris, the posters announcing the “final closure” and promotions before “liquidation” leave little room for doubt.  According to an employee, the store will close on October 24.

Although the location is in a good position – it is located in ZTI and can therefore open every Sunday and night times – no buyer is known to the present, said Jean-Louis Alfred, representing the CFDT Halle.

Contacted by AFP, the leadership of the group, declined to comment.

This store, opened with great fanfare in April 2014, was a ‘flagship’ for La Halle, a symbol of change in strategy for the brand, which sought to go upmarket and to reach new customers.

This huge store, with 10,000 items of clothing and accessories for women, men and children, was one of the first of the brand, more accustomed to the periphery, to open in the city centre.

Inside, the store was organized in “Top Brands”, made of good materials (leather, wood), away from the traditional element of the sign with its neon lights and linear supermarket.

But by breaking its traditional codes, the company has lost its regular clientele without conquering the Parisian consumers, with the key to an attendance and revenues reduced in half.

The return to a more traditional arrangement in 2015, to put forward more particularly low prices, had little impact as people were then confused with its image of the brand, leading to the decision to the closure of the store.

In April, the Vivarte group announced a broad social plan related to the elimination of 1476 jobs and closing 190 stores, La Halle has currently just over 600.

In mid-October, according to unions, less than half of these stores had been subject to proposals.

– 161 posts in 1072 can be maintained –

Thus, according to the CFDT, the distributor clothing C & A would be interested in taking over the business assets of 14 stores, the Beaumanoir group (Hide And Seek, Breal, Morgan …) three, and Orchestra (childcare articles) eight.

Regarding lease takeovers, La Halle aux shoes has positioned itself in six stores, Besson ten, world Houses on 12, the discount of 17 Action teaches Dutch and French retailer Casino week.

But these proposals “are far from final and all signed (…) All that remains very uncertain,” said Cyril Fontaine, representing CFE-CGC.

In Paris, Galeries Lafayette must resume a nearby outlet, boulevard Haussmann, to install some rays, during the work on the ground floor of its historic store.

In total, about 1072 stations threatened with removal by closing stores, only 161 are now likely to be maintained, says Alfred.

Last August 28, the unions of Halle, with the exception of the CFDT, have validated the draft agreement of the backup plan of employment (PSE).

This provides for the payment of an additional severance payment (so-called supra-legal), equivalent to “half a month’s salary or € 1,000 per year of service”, and a total budget of 5.2 million EUR dedicated to training.

These conditions are deemed insufficient by the CFDT, who works at a remedy to challenge socially.

Hall employed 4,200 workers in France earlier this year. On the 2013/2014 fiscal year, sales of its stores accounted for 528 million euros, a decrease of 26% in three years, for operational losses estimated at 103 million euros.

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