Department store icon Le Printemps closes seven branches

Le Printemps store
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Le Printemps, the famous French chain of department stores, is also a victim of coronavirus. Four branches in France are closing, as are three branches of daughter chain Citadium.


450 jobs gone

At department store group Le Printemps, losses are piling up, especially since the corona crisis. In order to stop this, and simply survive, the group is forced to transform its model. The department store chain wants to adapt "to the demands of the market", in particular by differentiating its offer more and renewing its customer base, according to Le Figaro. The Group will set aside 40 million a year for these investments over the next two to three years.

But first the retailer needs to make substantial savings: the famous chain plans to close seven stores in France. Four department stores of Le Printemps in Paris (Place d'Italie), Le Havre, Strasbourg and Metz will close, as will three branches of subsidiary Citadium in Paris (Champs-Élysées and Nation) and Toulon. The group currently has 19 department stores in France under its own name and eight branches under the Citadium flag.

As a result of this reorganisation, almost 450 jobs will be lost, or more than 10% of the 3,000-strong workforce. According to the group, the recovery plan also involves "adapting and bundling certain support functions". Le Printemps says it will support the affected employees with "appropriate and personalised measures". The company also wants to use an external partner to find buyers for the stores to be closed.


Structurally difficult market

"For some years now, the group has been operating in a structurally difficult market which has been exacerbated by a succession of economic crises (attacks, the yellow vests movement, strikes)," explains the company itself in a press statement. By these structural difficulties, the group refers to the clothing sector, which has lost 17% of its value over the last ten years. To top it all off, the corona pandemic decimated tourism, which particularly affected the iconic flagship on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris.

Outside France, too, department store chains are structurally burdened: Marks & Spencer and John Lewis in the UK, among others, recently announced drastic measures, while others are fighting for their lives. Is there still a future for historic department stores? RetailDetail chief editor Stefan Van Rompaey and retail manager Erik Van Heuven tackle the challenges and opportunities in their book 'The Future of Department Stores'.