French luxury goods behemoths LVMH and Kering have backtracked after initially telling staff they would be furloughed.
LVMH and Kering – run by France’s richest and third-richest person respectively – had sought to lean on the French government’s “partial activity” assistance scheme for businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
But, according to the Financial Times, both firms have now reversed that decision.
The very fact LVMH and Kering had initially sought governmental assistance is controversial, given the two companies’ vast wealth – and even wealthier executives.
LVMH – whose best-known subsidiary is the Parisian fashion house, Louis Vuitton – posted record annual revenue of €53.7 billion ($58.5 billion) in 2019, while Kering posted revenue of €15.9 billion ($17.3 billion) for the same year.
Compounding the controversy, LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault is France’s richest person by some distance, with his estimated net worth $72 billion also making him the world’s fourth-richest person. Kering CEO and chairman François-Henri Pinault, meanwhile, is worth an estimated $50.9 billion per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Although both billionaires have donated resources towards fighting the coronavirus in recent weeks, their initial decision was reportedly described by one trade union representative as “scandalous.”
The two firms did not immediately respond to Business Insider‘s requests for comment.