'A family torn apart': staff at mail order firm La Redoute face uncertain future after buyout


Mail order giant La Redoute was once a financial cash cow, a brand known for its glossy catalogues, dominant industry position and massive workforce. Not any more. Its billionaire owner François-Henri Pinault from the Kering luxury goods group has finally managed to sell the ailing firm for a euro in a management buy-out. The controversial deal, which will lead to the shedding of more than a thousand jobs, has split unions, the workforce and the towns in northern France where the company is based. Even those workers who will keep their jobs have been warned they will have to work harder and get paid less. Rachida El Azzouzi talks to union representatives and workers, many of whom feel they have been betrayed by one of France's wealthiest men.

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Trade union official Jean-Claude Blanquart has every reason to think that life can be cruel. Coaxed out of early retirement by his CFDT trade union to take part in the highly-charged talks over the future of France's largest mail order firm La Redoute, he ended up signing an agreement that will see 1,178 of his 2,432 colleagues lose their jobs, earning him the undying hatred of many fellow trade unionists and workers, not to mention death threats, having his car vandalised and being branded a “traitor”.