COSMETICS chain Sephora has said it will appeal against a ruling by France’s highest constitutional court that has upheld a ban on late-night opening.
The Constitutional Council today decided that the ban on late-night opening is constitutional and does not infringe on Sephora’s “freedom of enterprise”.
The cosmetics chain said it was “disappointed” at the ruling, which comes amid fierce debate in France over whether to relax laws banning late-night and Sunday openings for many retailers to boost the economy.
The company had challenged the ban on opening after 9pm as “an attack on the principle of free enterprise”.
Until September, Sephora’s flagship Paris store, on the Champs-Elysees, stayed open until midnight on weekdays and until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays to pick up trade from tourists indulging in a little late-night shopping.
It was prompted to challenge the law after it was ordered to close at 9pm following a legal complaint by unions.
Under French employment law, companies can ask employees to work between 9pm and 6am in “exceptional” circumstances - and reasons for the opening must meet a tightly defined set of criteria.
Sephora argued that the ban infringed its “freedom of enterprise”.
But the court ruled that the law provided the right balance between the freedoms needed to manage a company and requirements on “protecting the health and rest” of workers.
Some employees, however, have expressed anger at the decision. About 58 of the store’s 200 staff regularly volunteered for the later shifts at a higher rate of pay.
Late-night opening was an election topic in the mayoral race for Paris. UMP candidate Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet warned that current rules were “sending tourists to London in their droves”.
But Socialist Anne Hidalgo, who won the election, said she did not want to see Paris turn into a 24/7 shopping city.