Le Pain Quotidien is temporarily closing 13 points of sale: “The aid only corresponds to 1.5% of our fixed costs”

In a few days, it will be a year since the Horeca had to close its doors for the first time. And we will have to wait until May 1, minimum, to be able to reopen. A disaster for many independents, but also for larger chains. This is the case with Le Pain Quotidien bakeries which have 32 stores in Belgium. For a year, all the stores had kept their doors open by offering a take-out formula, while meals on site and brunches represented the largest share of the group’s income. Until further notice, 13 stores will close their doors: three in Antwerp, two in Brussels (Tour & Taxis and Galerie Royale), as well as those in Ghent, Mechelen, Overijse, Bruges, Waterloo, Liège and Wavre. “This is a temporary closure, the time to see more clearly, reacts Annick Van Overstraeten, CEO of the company. I am frustrated and outraged by the government’s latest announcements. We are vaguely told about May 1, but without certainty and above all without new aids and without a clear protocol! Should we wear FFP2 masks? What about rapid tests?

“In France, the aid corresponds to 32% of the costs, in England it is 31% and in the Netherlands 50%”

And if Le Pain Quotidien has done the big thing for a year, finances no longer allow to keep all points of sale open. “Aid is not enough. In Belgium, this corresponds to 1.5% of my fixed costs. I am in contact with my colleagues from neighboring countries and the difference is enormous. In France, it is 32%, in England 31% and in the Netherlands 50%, she breathes. I was in line with the Netherlands yesterday and they have clear dates and protocols set for the coming weeks. In addition, we are talking about new aid by the reopening.

It is therefore with a bitter taste that it sends part of its staff to economic unemployment. “Salaries are not huge in the hotel and catering industry and we are going to take 30% off them again, she regrets. We want to reopen as soon as possible and we have very important projects for the coming months, in particular with a digital transformation which is costing a lot of money. Today, we no longer know how to manage all the personnel without having clear perspectives. When we have something concrete, we will reopen the closed stores. It is time for the government to handle this crisis properly!

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