This restaurant raises its employees’ wages to keep up with inflation, here’s the boss’s recipe – Edition du soir Ouest-France

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Narbonne correspondence, by Henri FRASQUE

The leader of the CGT demanded it, the boss of the Grands Buffets de Narbonne (Aude) did it: the restaurateur will align the salary of its 210 employees in October 2022 with the cost of living. Its recipe for inflation? Increase, once again, the price of food for customers.

(Map: West-France)

“Come on, can I help you? » All smiles, Aurore, 24, hostess of the buffet, welcomes customers who flock to a pile of dishes and appetizers. Welcome to the Grands Buffets de Narbonne, in Aude, a local institution, which prepares around 1,000 covers per day, reserved weeks in advance by customers who sometimes come from far away to spend and how many hours in this atypical restaurant: from good food in abundance, at a price (€47.90), served by an army of qualified and versatile employees.

Like Aurore, who is more smiling because her salary here has nothing to do with her previous jobs: “Last time, I made €1,200. I get paid €1,600 a month, but I only work 16 hours a day! » The young woman here is paid €2,000 per month for 40 hours per week. A net income that will increase, because the manager and founder of Les Grands Buffets, Louis Privat, has recently decided to unilaterally index the salaries of his 210 employees to the cost of living: ie “7 to 8% from 1er October 2022, according to the Insee index ». With a review clause “every six months”.

Aurore, buffet hostess, pays €2,000 net for 40 hours per week. (Photo: West-France)

The price of food has increased by 10 € in less than a year

This 69-year-old former accountant’s recipe? Increase the price of food, which goes from €47.90 to €52.90 from 1er October. “The public must agree to pay the right price to be served well”, begged the entrepreneur in a singsong accent.

Won’t customers be put off by his price hike? “Some come to experience the product. Release the public at the cost of economic abuse for the collaborator, it will not work. »

In the name of a principle he says he has applied since opening his restaurant in 1989: “Zero loss of purchasing power for employees”, the boss of Grands Buffets has already increased his staff by 30% at the beginning of the year. At that time, by using profit-sharing rather than through salary increase. At the price of a first food price increase of 5 €. Conclusion: the tables are not stripped. Les Grands Buffets will easily exceed 20 million euros in turnover by 2022, with 363,000 customers.

1,500 candidates

The staff representatives, who did not ask for this increase, were happy. “Many employees were able to get a loan, change cars, or take a vacation more easily”, Olivier Quillaud, pastry chef and selected employee, is delighted, praising the quality of “dialogue” of the company and its many advantages: three consecutive days off for professions that do not work on continuous days, generous support during the Covid shutdown, ergonomics efforts, and so on. “The standard is high, but the employees are treated well”, welcome the employee.

This high salary has attracted 1,500 candidates to the company this year, out of about fifty vacancies! Different from the sector, which is difficult to recruit.

“The discount only benefits the customer”

The president of the department of the Union of trade and industry of the hotel industry in Aude, Thierry Deniau, praised these salary increases. But he points out that not all restaurants have such high volumes, and therefore cannot afford to raise their prices like Les Grands Buffets: “With the increase in the price of raw materials, energy, the PGE (loan guaranteed by the State) to be paid, at a certain point, we can no longer do it. And we can’t raise prices forever. For small restaurateurs, the competition is very tough. »

Louis Privat, he does not believe in anything: “ I completely refute the idea that this is a question of volumes. We need to get out of this spiral of completely above ground prices! The discount benefits the customer, and only him. It’s better to do a good job and get the price right than to do a bad job and offer a discount. » Not sure all his colleagues share the same opinion…

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