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Fashion retailer New Look’s French subsidiary drops job-protection plan

Translated by
Nicola Mira
today Dec 3, 2018
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It is something of a suspended sentence for the French employees of British fashion retailer New Look. The chain’s new top management in France, headed by Paul-Henri Cécillon, who started in his role last month, has decided to drop the job-protection plan that New Look's UK management, which at the time had direct control over the French subsidiary, presented to the employee representatives last September. It may be only a matter of time though, as FashionNetwork.com has learned that a new assessment will need to be made, with a view to kicking off a reorganisation.

New Look’s special festive collection - New Look

Paul-Henri Cécillon is known in France for his appointment as President of Sinéquanone in 2015, and has been tasked with rescuing the fast-fashion chain through his corporate turnaround firm Phinancia. He will be working also with Patrick Birault, a specialised interim manager, as indicated by his LinkedIn profile, who was appointed HR Director for New Look France in November.

The job-protection plan that was originally put forward called for the closing down of two thirds of New Look’s French stores, 21 out of 32, and the dismissal of 262 employees. Some employees and trade union representatives turned to Direccte, the regional authority for competition and employment, challenging the plan's compliance with regulations.

According to FashionNetwork.com sources, a meeting with employee representatives is scheduled on December 4, to provide more details about the management's new strategy. A new restructuring project is reportedly on the agenda, after an in-depth assessment of the chain's store network and of its French subsidiary’s financial situation. The terms of leases for the stores in Calais, Dijon and Villetaneuse, which were slated to close before the end of the year, may be extended.

The British fashion chain is present in France since 2006, and is experiencing difficulties in several markets. In 2017-18, sales in France fell by 13.6%, down to €57.9 million, compared to €67.05 million recorded the previous financial year. In the UK, New Look announced a major restructuring plan last March, targeting the closing down of 60 stores for a loss of 980 jobs

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