France

France's Virgin Megastore declares insolvency

Reuters/Christian Hartmann

France's Virgin Megastore was to formally ask a court to declare it insolvent Wednesday as shoppers rushed to more fortunate retail establishments for the first day of twice-yearly sales.

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Trade union representatives refused to vote at a works council meeting that discussed the insolvency, blaming management for failing to keep the company afloat.

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The owners say sales of CDs and DVDs are plummeting due to the rise of digital downloads and point to soaring rents on the Champs Elysées, the prestigious Paris street where its flagship store is situated.

The group, which has 26 stores and 1,000 employees, is 80 per cent owned by French investment firm Butler Capital Partners, which bought it from Virgin’s founder Richard Branson over a decade ago.

Last week the group decided to end its lease on it on the Champs-Elysées s flagship store, which has been generating 20 per cent of its turnover.

Hi-tech giant Apple, the US clothing chain Forever 21, British luxury retailer Harrods or German carmaker Volkswagen have all been mentioned as possible new tenants of the site.

Winter sales in France opened at 8.00 am on Wednesay.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the economic crisis, two-thirds of French people expected to buy something in the sales, according to an opinion poll conducted this week.
 

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