A French court has ordered Ikea to pay a fine of €1m today after the retailer was found guilty of snooping on its staff and storing illegally obtained employee data.
The furniture and home furnishing giant became the focus of a criminal probe in 2012, following reports of a widespread spying scheme that was used against employees.
The scheme also extended to customers who were in disputes with Ikea France. Prosecutors had originally sought a €2m fine against the company.
Prosecutors said the French division of the retail giant hired a private security company and private detectives to obtain information on its employees and prospective staff illegally.
The “spying system”, which operated from 2009 to 2012, has landed Ikea a hefty fine and Ikea France’s former chief executive, Jean-Louis Baillot, a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Baillot was also fined €50,000 for storing personal data. While Ikea is yet to issue a statement.
The former lead had previously denied any wrongdoing, blaming former head of risk management Jean-Francois Paris instead, who has since admitted to sending names of people to private security firm Eirpace.
Around 15 people were on trial over the spying scheme, which included another former CEO of Ikea France Stefan Vanoverbeke and four police officers who are accused of handing over confidential information to Ikea France.
An Ikea spokesperson 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.”