Among the employees who burst into tears or let their anger burst out at the announcement of the liquidation on Wednesday at the Lille Commercial Court, many have spent most of their careers at the women’s ready-to-wear giant, founded in 1984 in Roubaix.

“It’s very distressing to say to yourself that at 53, you will have to redo your CV, start looking for a job again”, says Sandra Sarrouy, saleswoman in a Millau store since 1993 and treasurer (CFDT) of the CSE .

She is considering a retraining: “at 53, you are less decorative in stores”. But “weak on IT”, she will have to “upgrade”.

In this kind of large brand, the training followed internally does not always promote employability externally, notes Mélanie Monton, from the Syndex consulting firm.

“From a social point of view, it will be complicated because the ready-to-wear market is under strong pressure”, points out for his part Adrien Guérin, analyst at Scope Ratings, for whom bankruptcies will accelerate in the sector.

– Complicated to “cross the street” –

As soon as the ax fell, the Minister Delegate for Industry Roland Lescure undertook to “support the employees”. He said he hoped for takeover offers “which could come from the liquidation process” for part of the business.

Reclassifications could also be considered within the other brands of HBP – the shareholder of Camaieu which had taken it over in 2020 – including GO Sport and Grande Récré. The management could not be reached to discuss these prospects.

Camaieu employees are divided between the Roubais headquarters and warehouse (respectively 350 and 112 employees, according to the CSE) and more than 500 stores throughout France.

Ms. Sarrouy is especially worried about her colleagues in the warehouse. Older, more worn out by work, “many will be able to cross all the streets they want, it will be complicated for them”, she points out, in reference to the sentence thrown at an unemployed person by Emmanuel Macron.

“At the warehouse, more than half of the employees are over 50,” confirms CGT delegate Thierry Siwik. At that age, “even if there are job offers in logistics, you are quickly dismissed”.

“And at the minimum wage, if you have to travel 40 km to go to work, you work almost for nothing” with the cost of fuel.

– Major layoffs plan –

“In the context of a liquidation, there is little money to put in the PSE (Job safeguard plan, with a reclassification component, editor’s note), so the public authorities will have to invest”, insists Melanie Monton.

The Hauts-de-France region, the first to be hit, obtained from the State the triggering of the “major layoffs plan”, a device making it possible to centralize and coordinate the search for jobs.

A meeting must be held “as soon as possible” with unions, judicial administrators and public service actors, “to conduct a case-by-case study of all employees”, explains the regional councilor (UDI) Philippe Beauchamps.

The jobs lost in the region are also concentrated in Roubaix, a city particularly hard hit by unemployment, he underlines.

In this former stronghold of French textiles, 31.1% of the active population declared themselves unemployed in 2019. And in the North, the unemployment rate exceeded the national average by two points in the first quarter of 2022, at 9.3 %.

The mayor (DVD) Guillaume Delbar pleads for a “specific plan” for employment assistance.

Among the avenues in Hauts-de-France, the logistics sector, of which Mr. Beauchamps underlines the high demand for recruitment. But remains “the eternal problem of mobility” of employees.

“I can’t imagine sales consultants repositioning themselves in logistics jobs, which are complicated in terms of arduous work and schedules”, comments expert Mélanie Monton.