The French operator Orange has an impressive fleet of 500 stores. Since the start of the pandemic, they have nevertheless been visited less and less. In response, the group has just announced that part of these 500 brands were going to be sold to its subsidiary GDT.
Faced with this announcement which directly threatens the employees, the unions have already stepped up to the plate. The idea for Orange is to “rethink the in-store experience, ensure better continuity with the digital experience”.
On the side of the unions the speech is clear, the closures have been only too numerous in recent years. 500 shops still alive is too few and the various unions do not want to negotiate.
In-store traffic is falling and Orange must reinvent itself
In their defense, the Orange group had more than 1,000 stores in France less than 10 years ago. But the last decade has been marked by several major changes, starting with the democratization of the Internet and its use.
Many people have started using the website of telephone operators in order to save time and not go to the store. Change plan, subscribe to an offer, as many things as it was before possible to do in the Orange brands. Today the operator’s website takes care of this role very well.
Despite the unions’ reluctance, Orange’s plan is clear. Switch a third of the group’s points of sale to make them GdT (general telephone) centers. Specializing in sales, this brand (also belonging to the Orange group) offers smartphones, but also accessories.
A 20% cost reduction
In fact, the management announces that the change of name should not change the operation of the brands concerned much. The unions are nevertheless concerned about the nuances in the collective agreements of the two companies.
With GdT, Orange can request longer hours from its employees. Holidays are also lower, as well as investment bonuses. The CFE-CGC union estimates that this change will enable the group to save around 20% on operating costs.
Orange for its part announces that the reclassification concerns 1000 employees in France who will have the choice between 2023 and 2026 to join GdT. Several employees, who still benefit from the status of civil servant offered by France Telecom, do not intend to accept the offer of their management.
Despite employees who are very closed on the issue, the group says it is constrained by the current system. ” In-store traffic has dropped by 30% since the start of the crisis”explains a spokesperson.
The Orange model, an exception
On a more positive note, Orange promises that no“dismissal or forced departure” will take place within the next three years. The group even wants to be reassuring, explaining that a hundred new shops should open their doors in the provinces.
On the competition side, SFR and Bouygues, two other French operators have already switched their stores to distribution companies. As mentioned above, this reduces costs and benefits for employees without compromising the internal functioning of a store.
Free, for its part, has 200 shops (three times less than the others) and a thousand automatic terminals to retrieve your SIM card. The operator is currently the only one to adopt this model.