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Bricorama escapes €37m damages claim

Unions who brought case failed to supply official proof that stores were open on Sunday, says judge

DIY store Bricorama has escaped a €37 million damages payment for flouting Sunday trading laws after a judge ruled that the union bringing the case had not supplied official proof.

The judge at the tribunal de grande instance in Pontoise said lawyers acting for the Force Ouvrière union had failed to produce “objective proof” that the stores had been open on Sundays.

Force Ouvrière had shown the court work rotas and sections of the store’s website indicating that Sunday trading was taking place, in spite of a court ruling banning it.

It had sought €37 million damages against the company based on a fine of €30,000 per infraction.

Judges however demanded till receipts or the sworn statement of a state official as proof that the stores were open.

FO lawyer Vincent Lecourt said they would appeal the decision and added: “Even the defence did not contest these openings.”

The head of Bricorama, Jean-Claude Bourrelier, said the decision was good news for the firm and its employees who “had already suffered enough after the closure of our French stores on Sunday since November 1”.

He said the demand to cease trading on Sunday had cost the company €4-5million in turnover each month.

Bricorama was originally told to stop Sunday trading in January after Force Ouvrière took the store to court, but the company kept trading while it appealed.

The chain, which has 95 stores in France and employs 2,614 people, agreed to abide by the demand in October after its appeal failed.

It has since launched a campaign to change the law and taken its rivals Castorama and Leroy Merlin to court for unfair competition.

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