The founder of Paul incited an online backlash after declaring that he will vote for François Fillon
In a 30-minute long video posted online on Saturday, Francis Holder praised Mr Fillon’s radical economic plan and promise of a more flexible jobs market, and falsely claimed that his more than 14,000 employees were also rooting for the centre-right presidential hopeful, positioning himself as their “ambassador”.
Paul employees, however, had no knowledge of the video, which was also posted on the Twitter account managed by Mr Fillon’s campaign team.
Henri Fakih, a Paul employee and a member of the French trade union CFDT, told Europe 1 radio on Monday that employees had been “surprised” that Mr Holder has spoken out on their behalf, before adding that French workers were “entitled to their own opinions”.
“A vast majority of Paul employees are foreigners, and I do not think that they hold Mr Fillon close to their hearts,” he said, before adding that he and his colleagues had been “manipulated” by their boss.
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A vast majority of Paul employees are foreigners
He added: “It may have been a publicity stunt, and if that’s what it was, it’s going to do the company more harm than good.”
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Mr Holder’s videotaped pledge of allegiance to Mr Fillon also started the hashtag #BoycottPaul, with thousands of Twitter users calling on French voters to boycott the bakery chain.
Mr Holder’s son, David, the chairman of the luxury bakery Ladurée, was quick to distance himself from his father’s political views, and said in a press release that politics and religion were “private matters” and that Ladurée employees had the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression.
Francis Holder praised Mr Fillon’s radical economic plan
His wife Françoise Holder, the co-founder of the Holder group, is for her part is a member of centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign team, and will therefore not be voting for Mr Fillon.