Douglas Perfumerie has released its latest e-commerce sales figures today. What they cover up is the underlying turmoil within the company. Following the unilateral announcement of the permanent lay-off of 2,500 workers across Europe, management has systematically refused to engage with staff representatives in any serious way.
“This company is playing extremely dirty. They have been happy to take government money to cover their staff costs during the pandemic. Now, they get ready to drop the workforce they relied on for so long with no second thought. We know that many of these shops are viable. If they are serious about social partnership, they should train existing staff for the new roles rather than firing loyal workers and rehiring others. By forcing their workers to pay the price, they are undermining fair competition. We will fight tooth and nail to ensure that this is a losing strategy,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.
Douglas is owned by private equity firm CVC. This move follows a common short-termist cost-cutting approach in private equity-controlled corporations. However, the deeper issues caused by subordinating long-term interests over short-term performance leave a lasting mark on a company. This poor practice in their treatment of their workforce raises serious ESG (environmental, social and governance) risks.
The company risks substantial reputational damage. Abandoning long-term workers in the midst of the pandemic, while simultaneously boasting €1.2 billion in sales has the potential to undermine the company’s image.
“Douglas is showing us exactly how not to act in a pandemic. After months of solidarity, not least by tax payers who have kept the company afloat, it takes a move to punish its workers. This is an unscrupulously opportunistic example of a corporation taking advantage of the pandemic,” said Oliver Roethig.
UNI Europa represents 7 million workers, including 2.3 million in the commerce sector.