“Phoenix, so that everyone has their home. » This advertising slogan that marked the 1970s made the Geoxia group, builder of the famous Phénix houses, a symbol of mass home ownership. His model fizzled out. The Commercial Court of Nanterre placed fourteen companies out of the seventeen of the group in compulsory liquidation, Tuesday, June 28, for lack of offers of buyers for its activity.
“I believed in it until the last minute, it’s a bit like the ground collapsing under my feet”, reacted Lucy Grolleau, secretary of the social and economic committee (CSE) of the company. Liquidation “is effective immediately”she added, “I asked all employees to leave their workplace”. Geoxia, which achieved a turnover of 252 million euros in 2021, employed nearly 1,150 people.
The major layoffs plan, which targets companies with more than 200 employees, has been activated, explained Bercy, “to help employees find a job in a sector that is known to be in high demand for labour”.
Lacking access to bank financing, after initial difficulties at the end of the 2000s, the management of Geoxia knocked on the door of the Ministry of the Economy to demand 70 million euros. She had been opposed to an end of inadmissibility.
“The state cannot finance past and future losses alone, without any shareholders. He can support a buyer but cannot replace a shareholderdecided Bercy. The absence of a buyer is indeed the signal of the company’s structural difficulties. »
Concern for ongoing construction sites
However, the work in progress must be completed. “Phoenix has 300 houses to finish”, which represents three months of work, assured Fernando Cabete Neves, CFTC union representative. The three factories of the company, which itself manufactured the slabs and frames of its houses, obtained a reprieve: the State decided to finance their continuation of activity to carry out the construction sites in progress, meant the Ministry of the Economy at Agence France-Presse.
For open sites, insurers will take over, said Bercy, by recruiting labor and taking charge of late penalties and additional costs. “They are the ones who will contact the policyholders in the coming days to keep them informed of the next steps to complete their work”continues the ministry.
Weakened economic model
Created in 1946, Maisons Phénix has developed in France thanks to a standardized model of individual house, quick and inexpensive to build. The group manufactured their framework in its own factories, metal frames, then brought ready-made to the sites. He had experienced the first difficulties at the end of the 2000s, which had cut off his access to bank financing.
The rise in real estate prices and the drying up of aid for home ownership, which have kept low-income households away from buying real estate, have deprived it of its core target. And the group did not manage to move upmarket in time. The health crisis, then the war in Ukraine, as well as the soaring prices of materials and energy that accompanied them, dealt it the deathblow.
“With construction constraints that have been added year after year, soaring material prices and rising land prices, the average customer who buys a house today is significantly different from the one who bought it. five or six years agosummarizes Damien Hereng, president of the French Federation of builders of individual houses.