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Qurate Exits “Underperforming” QVC France Business

When Qurate Retail Group released its fourth-quarter earnings at the end of Feburary, the home shopping company alluded to the “potential closure” of its French business for QVC, one of the seven brands it operates. On Monday, that possibility became all too real for the 154 employees in France set to lose their jobs with QVC’s television network and digital platforms when operations cease at 2 p.m. local time on Wed., March. 13.

In announcing the impending closure, Qurate echoed CEO Mike George’s February comments describing how France underperformed as a result of distinct “market structural challenges.”

“The decision to halt our QVC France operation was carefully considered, as QVC France had underperformed against financial and operational expectations, in large part due to unique in-market structural challenges and market dynamics that evolved in the years following the launch of the operation. We determined that these challenges were impacting our ability to develop our business in the manner we expected,” said Qurate Retail Group International president Aidan O’Meara, who also thanked affected staff for their “professionalism” during the winding-down process.

Qurate took a fourth-quarter charge of $13 million in anticipated related costs, including $9 million earmarked for severance on top of $4 million stemming from unsold inventory.

George described the possibility of a pullout as a “prudent move” during a February conference call with analysts. Qurate said it would divert the resources from France to expand other international markets. It also said that QVC France had consulted with necessary organizations and completed the regulatory requirements per “business practices and social policy” in the country.

French customers can shop QVC’s e-commerce platforms in Germany and the U.K., Qurate said.

Last year revenue ticked up 1 percent for QVC International, which, in addition to France, includes Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom and Ireland, plus a Chinese joint venture.

Recent moves show Qurate is investing for the future, building an Alexa skill while acknowledging the tech isn’t yet great for brands and rolling out a new mobile app purpose-built for consuming content in bite-size doses.

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