Wednesday 30th October, at an extraordinary meeting of its Works Council, Elior France announced its intention to launch a job protection plan in its Business & Industry contract catering activity.

While the health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19 has had major impacts on the Education and Healthcare markets, these impacts directly reflect the current situation, whereas in the Business & Industry market of the contract catering industry, the crisis has amplified much deeper structural changes that were already happening pre-Covid. For many months now, daily volumes in both the commercial and industrial sectors have been dropping drastically while also fluctuating sharply. This has mainly been due to a faster pace of change in the way people work, such as a lasting increase in remote working, currently estimated at over two days per week compared with less than one day per week a year ago. In addition, the reduction in business activity experienced by many clients - leading to site closures in some cases - has had a direct, immediate, and lasting economic impact on Elior France’s activities in the Business & Industry market.

Well before the crisis, Elior had embarked on a thorough business transformation, launching culinary and digital innovations to propose catering offerings more closely aligned with the new expectations of Business & Industry clients and guests. We took additional action during the national lockdown in France to adapt to new market realities, such as systematically renegotiating clients’ contracts, using vacation days, setting up training sessions, drawing on internal mobility, and using government-sponsored furlough and partial activity work programs.

Today, Elior Business & Industry and Arpège need to make more extensive structural changes to ensure their long-term viability. That is the aim of the plan presented to the Company’s employee representatives today. This reorganization would entail the elimination of 1,888 positions, spread out over nearly 1,260 B&I sites operated by Elior Entreprises and Arpège across France.

"The company will now begin a process of consultation and dialogue with our employee representatives to limit the impact of this project on employment as much as possible. That is my intention, and we have the means to do it. As many affected employees as possible will be offered transfers to other Group activities in France - in catering and in services - using current vacancies, positions created by this project, and the usual turnover. We estimate that more than 1,000 positions could be available in the coming year," says Frédéric Galliath, Managing Director of the Elior France B&I business.

In addition to the job protection plan, to cope with the lower level of activity directly caused by the health crisis, Elior intends to make long-term use of partial activity at sites where such a system is both possible (i.e. major sites) and appropriate.
Elior B&I’s management team will be keeping employees regularly informed throughout the process via their employee representative bodies.