for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Paris gourmet grocer Fauchon faces COVID crunch from lack of tourists

Slideshow ( 5 images )

PARIS (Reuters) - Since its start as a grocery pushcart, the Fauchon delicatessen has been on the same spot in central Paris for 134 years where it was buffeted by two World Wars, countless mass demonstrations, strikes and riots.

Now Fauchon, famous for its eclairs, foie gras, truffles, and fine wines, is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic which has robbed Paris of most of its tourism trade and struck when the store’s footfall was already weakened by months of social unrest.

In June, Fauchon put its two flagship stores on Place de la Madeleine into receivership and submitted a restructuring plan to court, which will rule by Sept. 15.

“All demonstrations in Paris seem to start or finish at La Madeleine, and each time we need to close shop. Then there were the strikes around Christmas, our peak period, then came Covid, which was the final blow,” Fauchon executive Justine Klar said.

The firm has warned its 107 staff at La Madeleine there will be job cuts and is negotiating redundancy terms with unions.

Fauchon hopes to move to cheaper premises in Paris, away from the demonstrations circuit and to focus more on a Parisian clientele than on tourists. It also wants to boost its network of 73 franchises in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, which are not impacted by the receivership.

Founded in 1886 by a pushcart fruit and vegetable grocer named Auguste Fauchon, the store is one of several Paris luxury food brands with 19th century roots. Like macaron shop Laduree, hot chocolate specialist Angelina and gourmet traiteur Maxim’s, Fauchon competes with LVMH-owned market leader La Grande Epicerie.

Fauchon said that even if its food outlets will likely move, its luxury hotel is doing well and will stay at La Madeleine.

“La Madeleine was the cradle for Fauchon, so it is very important for us to maintain a presence here,” she said.

Reporting by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up