Vivarte, the French retailer that owns the banners La HalleCaroll and Minelli, will reopen its 1,350 stores after eight weeks of closure on May 11. Stringent hygienic rules will be introduced, especially for fittings.

In collaboration with the trade unions, Vivarte has set up a health and safety program for its 8,000 employees that abides by the government’s guidelines. The three banners will ensure a daily cleaning and disinfection of the stores. The group has also ordered 600,000 face masks, hydroalcoholic gel, washable facial shields and other personal protection equipment.

Staff will be informed of the health and safety instructions. At each shift change or takeover, shared working spaces will be desinfected. Staff will have to wash their hands at least every two hours, preferably with soap, otherwise with hydroalcoholic gel, as well as for each shift and before and after a break. Working in pairs will be prohibited.

To ensure social-distancing and to guide clients, the stores will regularly make public announcements as well as display panels and have visible floor markings. There will be a special focus on fitting booths as well as goods exchange and reimbursement desks. In La Halle stores, fitting booths will be temporarily closed but swapping and refunding services will be ensured. Fittings will be maintained for Caroll and Minelli stores but hygienic rules will be tighter. In Caroll stores, fitting booths will be cleaned after every client and items tried on will be washed and isolated before being put back on the shelves. At Minelli, the use of disposable knee-highs will be compulsory and the shoehorns will be systematically cleaned after each use.

La Halle unions critical about job preservation talks

Separately, trade unions in France complained about talks underway regarding a job preservation plan, known as PSE, at La Halle, that was placed in receivership on April 23 following a court decision. Jean-Louis Alfred, a representative of the CFDT trade union, told the news agency AFP that they are having to negotiate with “a gun at [their] head”. He criticized the lack of information on the content of the PSE and the tight deadline, May 18, set by the court-appointed receivers for an agreement.

Karim Cheboub, of the CGT union, said that the program is vague and the unions have no information on the stores and employees involved. He accused the receivers of seeking a “blank check” before May 25, the deadline for filing investment or recovery projects to guarantee the survival of the business. For Claire Vigouroux, of the FO union, the aim is to sign a PSE without true negotiation in order to be able to fire staff more easily.

Vivarte told AFP that the meeting between the unions and receivers was aimed at starting talks and that at least two other meetings are scheduled. In April, Vivarte had indicated that planned to close or sell more than 100 of La Halle’s 860 stores.