Last Sunday was the third and final day of Victoria Beckham’s 46th anniversary extended celebrations. She had previously enjoyed a “virtual” party hosted by a famous DJ friend and posted on Instagram, and had a chocolate cake which she had also proudly posted on her favorite social media platform. The day was supposed to be happy, perhaps accompanied by more displayed pictures of Happy Family Beckham toasting the former Spice Girl with their favorite red wine at £ 2,000 a bottle.
Only things did not go as planned.
The Beckhams may have been fortunate to have cleared their 31 million pound house in Holland Park, west London, to soak up the country sunshine when they converted a luxury barn in the Cotswolds, but their morning was soon interrupted by panicked phone calls from their audience. relations and management teams.
The cause of the fury was the revelation on the front page of The Mail on Sunday that Victoria Beckham had authorized 30 employees of her troubled fashion brand, despite an astounding family fortune of £ 335 million.
Undoubtedly, the carefully cultivated – and costly – public image of the Beckhams has been damaged by the fact that with thousands of people dying and millions of livelihoods at risk, this extremely wealthy woman benefited from ‘a government emergency program to claim what had been estimated. be tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money.
Victoria Beckham demanded to know why there was so much noise about her use of the leave plan which, according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was intended to be a lifeline for struggling British companies
With a perverse sense of victimization, a “furious and stressed” Ms. Beckham asked why there was so much noise about her using a program that, according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, was intended to be a buoy rescue for struggling British companies that had “done nothing wrong but are watching their finances fall from a cliff.”
Many would argue that it was not intended for a small luxury fashion brand that has accumulated around £ 35 million in losses since its creation in 2008, or for a woman whose family empire has paid £ 38 million. to its owners, despite its own -90 percent drop in profits, in November.
So Sunday’s atmosphere was “terribly tense,” a source said. “There have been many crisis calls to discuss how they should respond. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Victoria was sulking. She’s used to being criticized by David, but apart from a few light veins so that she can’t sing very well or never smile, she has never been examined like that. “
Make no mistake, it was a very bad day for Brand Beckham. Perhaps the worst day since the e-mail leak has come to light that former England captain David had threw his mouth at the honors committee as “a bunch of c *** s” when he was told says his possible chivalry had been blocked. It followed allegations that HM Revenue & Customs suggested he had been involved in a controversial form of legal tax evasion.
She had laid off 30 employees of her struggling fashion brand despite a staggering family fortune of £ 335 million.
And that didn’t help when it turned out that Ms. Beckham’s reaction was that it was “the worst week of her life.” But, of course, in the world of self-obsessed celebrities, the priorities are always different.
So how should Brand Beckham play this latest crisis? In the midst of the PR blizzard, it seems that no one suggested that she announce that her decision to lay off her staff and take taxpayer dollars was a mistake and that she should reconsider. Instead, these were surface image issues.
The advice was to restrain any more touted Instagram post about the Beckhams’ luxury lifestyle.
There hasn’t been one last Sunday, and there hasn’t been one since.
A surprise for the 28 million followers of Victoria.
In the past few days, there had been a constant supply, the couple making public videos of themselves cooking or designing tie-dye T-shirts with their daughter Harper.
Even their weekly ritual of posting videos of themselves cheering for NHS staff every Thursday evening was abandoned as they tried to weather the storm using the well-worn showbusiness tactics of keeping their heads down and hope things would pass.
But the storm did not pass. It got even more fierce. Comedian Ricky Gervais “liked” a comment on social media that said, “The ****** Beckhams, sorry, I’m done with them now. Shame on them.’
And then Piers Morgan intervened after the spokesman for the Beckham family justified the decision to get the taxpayers to pay 80% of the wages of 30 of his employees by saying: “After having evaluated all our options, we decided to lay off part of the staff on an improved package.
He said that Victoria’s business was just a vanity project, adding, “Lost money year after year. Was bailed out by her famous wealthy husband David Beckham. Sorry, this leave plan was not intended for prima donna millionaires like you. “
Even now Victoria is not ready to go back on using the program, which will save her at most £ 225,000. I am told that his team discussed whether the company should resist taxpayers’ money, but “it was decided that the story would last longer if they went this route, so they chose to continue in the hope that it would soon be forgotten ”.
It turned out that Ms. Beckham’s reaction to criticism of her decision to put her troubled fashion brand on leave was that it was “the worst week of her life”
Meanwhile, it has been suggested that Victoria and her team, led by general manager Marie LeBlanc of Reynies, may have misunderstood the principle of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
The rules state that companies can only claim under the plan if they “cannot maintain their current workforce because their operations have been severely affected by the coronavirus”.
But Ms. Beckham’s fashion house – which sells dresses for £ 1,500 – is still actively looking for staff.
A retail executive told how she got a call from a London branch of the recruitment company Hays to see if she was interested in being a brand manager at the label. The starting salary would be £ 80,000, but he was told it could be raised to around £ 100,000. The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “How can you justify taking government money from staff on leave but then offering someone a big salary, possibly six digits ? “
The Beckhams deny that any such job was offered to anyone. Until Thursday, the company was recruiting on the LinkedIn website for a social media manager to “design and create compelling social content across multiple channels and platforms.” Salary is estimated between £ 36,000 and £ 56,000.
Piers Morgan weighed in on Twitter and said the Victoria business was just a vanity project, adding, “Lost money year after year. Was bailed out by her famous wealthy husband David Beckham. Sorry, this leave plan was not intended for prima donna millionaires like you. “
After our story last weekend, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden was asked about it on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. He replied, “Every person and every business should ask themselves, should they be counting on the tax liter, because the scheme is supposed to be if you are about to fire someone and you don’t have the money to continue using them, then you can count on the government to prevent layoffs. The principle is that you should only use it if you have to. “
Meanwhile, on Twitter, the brickbats continued all week with a hashtag #boycottthebeckhams.
In the end, it seems, the backlash was too much for Victoria. In addition to her public relations admitting that it was her “worst week”, despite her birthday, a friend revealed: “She is really upset and doesn’t think it is fair that she should be criticized for something that many of companies and businesses do. ”
The truth is that those close to the Beckhams and their business believe that their brand has never been more precarious before.
The launch of David’s American football club, Inter Miami, left the couple in a dilemma over whether to stay in Britain or move to Florida. But it’s Victoria’s fashion business that is bankrupt and at the forefront of their minds.
David and Victoria participated in the One World program which celebrated health workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic
He has never made a profit, and Victoria and her team plan to announce even more disastrous losses in October. In the past, the company has been supported by regular documents from David, whose venture DB Ventures has always been much more lucrative. Although advised to close her flagship store in Mayfair, Victoria refuses. “It is her baby, her pride and her joy,” said a friend. Inevitably, there is talk in the fashion world that the business will not survive much longer. Undoubtedly, the chances have diminished considerably since the coronavirus crisis.
Other factors also played a role. Last year, she separated from Simon Fuller, the entertainment tycoon responsible for the creation of Brand Beckham. He had helped launch her fashion brand – a dream she had since childhood.
After more than a year of quarrels, she and David extricated themselves from him to manage their own affairs. Since then, there have been personnel issues, with the couple each losing their long-term PR gurus and new recruits in quick succession.
David’s most recent public relations daughter, Izzi May, a close friend of Meghan Markle, left her company on Friday amid rumors of a fall, even if she denies that it is.
Meanwhile, Victoria spokesperson Bella Blenkinsopp also gave her advice on taking a leadership role in the TikTok social media phenomenon. Instead, Nicola Howson, former ITV publicist and spokesperson for actor Kevin Spacey, has been chosen to work for both Victoria Beckham Limited and David, whose business is now run by best friend David Gardner.
Despite these rescue attempts, after abandoning the man who made their millions and scored the biggest goal of his career during Victoria’s leave request, there is no doubt that Brand Beckham is suddenly in crisis.