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French Virgin Megastore workers to fight closure

AFP/Lilnel Bonaventure

Trade unions at Virgin Megastore swore to fight the closure of the company’s 26 music, DVD and book shops in France as the works council met to hear plans to declare the company insolvent. Worker representatives said that the meeting, which started Monday morning would continue Tuesday with the main investor present.

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The chain’s owners, French investment company Butler Capital Partners who took it over in 2008, have caused uproar with the announcement that they will close the shops, including the emblematic store on Paris’s Champs Elysées which opened with much fanfare 25 years ago.

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The French Virgin Megastore employs 1,000 people.

Staff representatives said that they believed that the company could be made viable by combining sales in stores with sales online.

Despite a turnover of 268 million euros in 2011, Virgin Megastore has been losing money for several years.

As online retailers’ sales soar and internet users access free sources, CD sales have fallen 70 per cent in 10 years, DVD sales have been falling for the last four years and

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book sales fell for the first time in 2012.

And rents on the Champs Elysées, where the flagship store is sited, have soared – by 30 per cent in 2011 alone – to an average of 9,000 euros per square metre, making the street the third most expensive in the world.

Unions have called for a protest rally against the closure plans on Wednesday.

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