- Employees worked at department store chains Anttila, Stockmann and Vallila Collection
- All three companies were weakened by competition from increasing online trading
- EU funds to cover measures such as start-up grants or IT skills training
1,500 workers in Finland, laid off by Anttila, Stockmann and Vallila Collection, should receive EU aid worth €2,499,360, following a Budgets Committee vote on Wednesday.
Since 2014 Anttila and Stockmann, two Finnish department store chains, as well as the subsidiary Vallila Collection, were blighted by decreasing sales, due to increased online sales and the growing popularity of non-EU web-shops. This led to 1,660 employees being dismissed in total, as well as the complete closure of Anttila and Vallila Collection. Stockmann’s sales turnover decreased by 38 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Overall, the declining profitability was caused by a change in shopping habits. In Finland, this is underlined by a 34% increase in online retail between 2010 and 2015. Furthermore, in 2016, 19% of all sales were transacted through non-European online retailers, compared to only 6% in 2008.
The co-funding mobilised through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) will complement measures taken by the Finnish authorities, from which 1,500 former staff will benefit. As a great number of these workers are over 55 years of age and might lack the necessary new skills to access the job market, such as IT or data analysis, specifically tailored career coaching will be provided. Vocational training, monetary contributions for individuals setting up their own company and subsidies for each person employed to be given to future employers as a recruitment incentive, are also covered.
The draft report by the Committee on Budgets was adopted by 31 votes to 3, with no abstentions.
To take effect, the aid has to be approved by the Parliament as a whole on 30 November, and by the Council on the same date.
The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund contributes to packages of tailor-made services to help redundant workers find new jobs. Its annual ceiling is €150 million.
Redundant workers are offered measures such as support for business start-ups, job-search assistance, occupational guidance and various kinds of training. In most cases, national authorities have already started the measures and will have their costs reimbursed by the EU when their applications are finally approved.