Euro launches smoothly

By lunchtime yesterday on the first real trading day in the brave new world of the single currency, there were no angry scenes of rebellion, only a quiet resignation to the passing of the French franc.

In Lille, northern France, irate Frenchmen were thin on the ground, with only harrassed barmen complaining they did not have enough coins for customers’ change.

In the town’s vast shopping centre, EuraLille, preparations for the currency switch appeared to have paid off, with only small retailers saying they hadn’t had enough time to change the prices in their windpow displays.

Normally Yves Baron worked in the internal audit department of ‘Paul’, the patisserie chain, but yesterday he was in front of the counter at Paul?s EuraLille outlet to ensure a smooth change over to the euro.

Baron had spent the past year running the company’s euro project, and he was now making sure his plans had worked.

‘Today is our first day of the euro and I am here to explain how it works,’ he said.

Paul had twice the usual number of staff working behind the counter in a bid to speed up serving customers who paid in francs but were given their change in euros.

‘So far we have only lost one customer who wanted his change in francs,’ Baron said.

Paul’s Patisserie has 250 outlets, and all 4,000 of its staff had been sent on a half day training course to understand the euro during the past three months.At Carrefour, France?s largest supermarket chain, managers had brought in an extra 20 cashiers so that all 50 checkouts were open to help customers.

But most of the checkout staff, proudly sporting euro t-shirts, were having a quiet day.

Amanda Aldridge, KPMG’s head of retail, was impressed with preparations for ‘e’ day.’It is good that stores are allowing extra time to explain the changes to customers,’ she said.Links

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