Here’s WSJ with the report:
On Monday, France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon is scheduled to host a meeting of government advisers, luxury-goods executives and artisans to discuss aid for the country’s craftsmen. Among the dilemmas to be discussed are the fragility of the sector and its importance to France’s image, and the difficulty in recruiting and training young artisans, according to a government official. Tax breaks and new rules on labeling — in particular to highlight the origin or artisanal nature of a product — are being considered though they may not be announced right away, according to government officials.
The number of small French businesses serving the high-end fashion industry has shrunk to 115 in 2007 from 468 in 2000, according to the French national statistics agency INSEE. As a result, the number of highly-skilled artisans employed in France has dropped 80%, to 5,209 in 2007. Analysts say the situation has worsened over the last year as consumers around the world have cut back on splurges. In a June report, consultants Bain & Co. forecast that the global luxury-goods market would shrink 10% this year.
“In the long-term, France’s position as a leader of fashion and creativity is at risk,” says Clarisse Reille, a luxury-goods consultant hired by France’s Industry Ministry to help draw up an aid package for France’s textile businesses. Orders for luxury garments are down some 30% this year in France from 2008, as consumers cut spending, says Ms. Reille. – from WSJ