KKR-Backed V&D Asks for Pay Freeze

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – V&D, a Dutch department store chain partly owned by private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., has asked staff to delay a pay rise to save jobs in the recession.

V&D, part of Dutch retail group Maxeda, asked staff to delay a 3.3 percent wage increase until Feb. 1 to limit the number of jobs axed in a planned cost-cutting programme, a spokeswoman said on Monday.

The wage increase, planned to start on July 1, could affect about 500 jobs but if staff collectively decide to postpone the rise until next year, job cuts could be reduced to about 60 positions, and forced lay-offs could be prevented, she said.

Staff at British Airways (BAY.L) last month agreed to take a pay cut, while British telecoms company BT Group (BT.L) and Spanish Bank BBVA (BBVA.MC) have also asked staff to work for other companies or take unpaid leave as they try to avoid redundancies. 

Maxeda was bought by KKR and private equity funds Permira, Cinven and AlpInvest Partners in 2004 for 2.4 billion euros ($3.4 billion). Dutch union FNV, which has refused a collective deal to freeze wages, said cost savings should not come from employees because Maxeda had already sold its property, FNV’s Henk van der Ploeg said in a statement.

“Big sums were involved in this deal. Why give presents to a company which is taking away capital?” Van der Ploeg said.

(Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Dan Lalor) ($1 = 0.7154 euro)