Fashion designer Stella McCartney has furloughed hundreds of her staff and asked those who remain working to take a pay cut during the coronavirus crisis.
McCartney will use taxpayers’ money offered as part of the Government’s job retention scheme to pay salaries, in a move similar to Victoria Beckham, who has been slammed for furloughing people despite her £335million fortune.
One employee said staff were ‘extremely hurt’ by the decision taken by McCartney, who has a personal fortune estimated at more than £60million.
‘What she has done is morally wrong and socially unacceptable,’ said one of the workers who has been placed on furlough.
‘We had all expected much more from Stella, but she has shown no loyalty. She prides herself on social credentials, but we have just been dumped.’
Unlike Victoria Beckham, who has put 30 staff on furlough, McCartney, 48, has told her staff there are no plans to top up their wages with any enhanced package.
Under Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s rescue package, firms can claim up to 80 per cent of wages to a maximum of £2,500.
Mrs Beckham plans to make up the 20 per cent for those put on the Government job scheme.
But she has still been heavily criticised for asking the Government to pay the other 80 per cent of her wages, when her handbag collection alone is thought to be worth £1.5million.
Her fashion label charges £1,500 for a dress and Mrs Beckham recently bought a £17million penthouse in Miami with her husband David. The couple also splashed out £100,00 on their eldest son Brooklyn’s 21st birthday celebrations.
But she said the 30 staff across marketing, customer services and those working in her Mayfair shop will be furloughed for two months ‘so far’.
Meanwhile staff who work at McCartney’s two flagship stores in London have received letters informing them of the company’s decision.
An insider said that as many as half the 1,400 employees at 51 stores worldwide were being placed on furlough.
Stores in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas have also been forced to close due to lockdowns imposed on non-essential stores in an attempt to halt the spread of Covid-19.
The website for the Stella McCartney brand features the slogan : ‘We are all in this together’ and shows two models tugging at one of her expensive handbags.
As well as stores in London, McCartney’s sportswear, clothing and accessories are sold in Harrods and Harvey Nichols.
They have all been forced to close since Boris Johnson announced the lockdown.
McCartney, the daughter of former Beatle Paul, is now one of the most recognised names in fashion with her designs favoured by celebrities.
The Stella McCartney brand has a turnover of more than £500million a year and she is the sole owner of her company having bought out a joint partner two years ago.
The designer, who is married with four children, is likely to face a backlash over her decision to seek taxpayer money for her staff.
A spokesman for Stella McCartney said that not all staff had been placed on furlough. They refused to comment on salary cuts for staff.
Mrs Beckham’s company, based in Hammersmith, West London, has not made a profit since it launched in 2008.
In 2018, it suffered losses of £12.3 million.