Swedish retailer Ikea’s “caring, sharing” brand image has been dealt a heavy blow after a French court has ordered the firm to pay a fine of €1m (£860,000) for spying on staff.
The Versailles court, which opened proceedings in March, heard how the retailer used private detectives and police officers to collect private data on staff between 2009 and 2012. Even so, prosecutors argued that the system was set up nearly a decade earlier under the watch of Ikea France ex-CEO Jean-Louis Baillot.
The mass surveillance system was used by store managers to vet job applicants, as well as check up on staff. In total, about 400 people were snooped on.
Managers were found to have used a private security firm, Eirpace, which in turn collected personal data from the police. It included information about staff lifestyles and any previous criminal convictions.
The 15 people in the dock included top executives and former store managers; four police officers were also on trial for handing over confidential information.
Baillot was slapped with a two-year suspended prison sentence and €50,000 fine, while Ikea France’s former head of risk management, Jean-Francois Paris, who was accused of being at the heart of the spying system, was handed a suspended 18-month prison term and a fine of €10,000.
In response to the ruling, Ikea said: “Ikea takes the protection of co-worker and customer data very seriously. Ikea Retail France has strongly condemned the practices, apologised and implemented a major action plan to prevent this from happening again.
“We will now review the court’s decision in detail and consider if and where any additional measures are necessary.”
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