In an investigation by “Numerama”, several ex-employees of the Xiaomi Store point the finger at the responsibility of the Chinese brand which would have done nothing to save the furniture.
Almost all Xiaomi Stores in France have closed. The announcement obviously caused a stir. However, it must be understood that the activities of Xiaomi in France are doing well, but the company Tell Me, the external service provider responsible for managing physical stores, has been subject to receivership.
Result: the Xiaomi Stores closed their doors abruptly, with the exception of the one open on the Champs-Élysées, because it is not managed by Tell Me. In response, Xiaomi was content to indicate that it had “ taken note of the decision of the Court of Justice of Créteil placing the company Tell Me, manager of the Xiaomi Store in France, in compulsory liquidation“. The firm then added to seek “ quickly resume normal activities “.
Xiaomi’s responsibility called into question
Through his words, we feel that Xiaomi is distancing himself from this affair. However, the responsibility of the Chinese brand is pointed out by former store employees who testify to Numerama. Some believe that this press release gives a distorted interpretation of the facts. ” It’s not reality and it’s not fair to Tell Me, who did everything they could to save our business.“explains one of the interviewees.
This recently fired seller points to inaction on the part of the Chinese brand. “It was Xiaomi France that didn’t want to help the shops, they didn’t put a penny in the shops “. The witnesses, who speak on condition of anonymity, evoke a feeling of abandonment. Xiaomi is, in fact, accused of laxity, at best, or outright, at worst, of having put a spoke in the wheels of physical stores.
A complicated story
You should know that at the very beginning, the shops in France were governed by another entity, iHealth Labs. It is a manufacturer of thermometers and connected scales. This firm therefore did not a priori, no legitimacy to recover an activity in distribution. It would seem that this choice of partner was part of more global agreements between Xiaomi and iHealth.
However, the people who testified to Numeramaregret poor management of iHealth. They also explain that from 2019, this company would have been greatly marked by the demonstrations of the Yellow Vests on the sidelines of which Xiaomi Store windows had been broken and products stolen.
At the end of 2020, the management of iHealth, really put off by these events (in addition to the pandemic), would have already decided to close the stores, except that of the Champs-Élysées which enjoys good visibility. Two former iHealth then decided to create Tell Me to resume activities and save the teams working in the stores.
The Xiaomi Store competed by the Xiaomi site
However, from the beginning of the project, it was clear that Tell Me would not achieve anything without finding a partner and funds. And this is where the people testifying question the responsibility of Xiaomi which, according to some sources, has always known that“without outside support, it was dead”. And the brand would never have provided this much-desired help.
Worse, its merchant website (mi.com) would have competed with the Xiaomi Store on several products (excluding smartphones) with enticing promotions while prices were frozen in physical stores.Numeramaspecifies that the teams of Xiaomi France are not really targeted by the critics. Rather, the accusations are directed at the headquarters in China.
Xiaomi should continue to have stores in France
Contacted byNumeramaXiaomi clearly suggests that it intends to continue to rely on physical stores to support its presence in France: “we are evaluating all possibilities for the future, including potential new physical outlets“. However, the group emphasizes the independence of retail stores which “sell officially authorized Xiaomi products“.
These latter “are therefore owned and operated by third parties, which are [seules] responsible for their operations and finances“. The French subsidiary does not provide more information on the potential influence of the headquarters in China on its decisions.
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