For the general manager of Galeries Lafayette, its spaces must be able to reopen as quickly as possible. To fight against the spread of the coronavirus, stores of more than 20,000 m2 must in fact close since January 31. Nicolas Houzé, whose group suffers greatly from this closure, does not expect to return to a pre-crisis level before 2024, according to an interview with Sunday newspaper.
The manager qualifies above all as “unfair and unjustified” the closure of 30% of its stores which generate 70% of turnover and which currently places “7,000 employees” in partial activity. Even if the crisis has “accelerated our turn to digital”, “online sales, which represent 5% of our overall income, do not compensate for closures,” he explains.
According to him, “it has never been shown that our stores are dangerous places”: “out of our 4,000 employees working at Haussmann, we have had 200 positive cases, including 10% of cases in the workplace, since the 30th. may “.
The importance of foreign customers
However, Nicolas Houzé says he is convinced that foreign customers, “who represent 60% of our turnover within Haussmann’s flagship” but who are prevented from traveling due to the health crisis, “will return”. Therefore, “this means not making any staff cuts or drastic choices to remodel our stores,” he says.