They sell dreams, luxury, tradition. Ladurée achieved 110 million euros in turnover in 2019, thanks to a small macaron which represents 70% of its sales, and also thanks to high-end pastries. But in the back room where these are made, the methods of the family that owns the business are surprising. The patriarch, Francis Holder, the descendant of a line of bakers who made a fortune, transmitted his precepts to his children: rigor, excellence… and savings on wages, according to former employees that “Complément d’Enquête” has met.
These precepts, David Holder, eldest son and CEO of Ladurée, applies them to the letter. To make the brand’s pastries, about fifteen employees work in a “production laboratory” located in the Paris region. Their work schedule: 39 hours a week, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. In return for this night work, one could imagine that these employees earn more.
“There, on the payslip, the salary is 1,380 euros net. For what we do, the salary does not follow, not at all. It does not correspond to what we do, to what ‘we live.”
Eric, 28, former pastry chef at Ladurée
to “Further investigation”
But two former pastry chefs from Ladurée, who testify with their faces hidden in this extract from “Complément d’Enquête”, describe an exhausting work pace and an accumulating lack of sleep. Disturbed sleep, taking sleeping pills, extreme fatigue… all this for a salary barely above the minimum wage.
Why does night work not appear on payslips?
And above all, their payslips make no mention of these night hours. When they worked for Ladurée, they received no premium or bonus. It was by examining these payslips that the journalists discovered the trick. Employees are not attached to the collective agreement for pastry chefs, but to that of hotels, cafes and restaurants.
“It’s disgusting. We are underpaid; he is one of the French fortunes…”
Antoine, 31, former pastry chef at Ladurée
to “Further investigation”
This choice has a huge advantage for the employer: no increase is due for night hours. The pastry collective agreement provides for a 50% reduction for hours worked between midnight and 4 a.m. Ladurée pastries are sold in tea rooms, which would allow the company to legally apply the agreement for cafes and restaurants… According to an accounting firm contacted by journalists, the shortfall for pastry chefs would be 550 euros net per month… i.e. a third of salary more.
Eexcerpt from “Paul and Ladurée: billionaire bakers”, a document rebroadcast in “Complément d’Enquête” on June 9, 2022.
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