Court orders liquidation of Virgin Megastore France

PARIS, June 17 Mon Jun 17, 2013 11:39am EDT

PARIS, June 17 (Reuters) - A Paris court ordered the liquidation of books-to-music retailer Virgin Megastore France on Monday, sending hundreds more people to join France's record jobless queues.

Virgin Megastore France, which employs 960 people in France, filed for insolvency in January, blaming high property rental costs and an industry-wide slump in CD and DVD sales as consumers download more film and music online.

The court last week rejected two takeover offers by clothing group Vivarte and specialist retailer Cultura, deeming neither sufficient to safeguard Virgin's future.

"It's not a surprise, but it's a very sad day for Virgin and its employees," Virgin CEO Christine Mondollot told Reuters. "We had no other choice but to put the company under liquidation."

Consumer spending has been sapped by recession in France, the euro zone's second-biggest economy, and unemployment is at a 14-year high.

Union leaders will meet on June 24 to discuss the conditions in which staff will be laid off and found new jobs. They have called on staff to occupy stores to heap pressure on management.

Private equity firm Butler Capital Partners, Virgin Megastore's main shareholder, said last month it would give two million euros ($2.7 million) to help staff find new jobs. Media group Lagardere, which owns a 20 percent stake, offered to rehire 80 employees. ($1 = 0.7496 euros) (Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Natalie Huet; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)