Insolvency: Galeria Kaufhof closes 16 branches – new owner takes over in July

Germany's last large department store group, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, wants to close 16 of its 92 branches.

Insolvency: Galeria Kaufhof closes 16 branches – new owner takes over in July

Germany's last large department store group, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, wants to close 16 of its 92 branches. The German Press Agency learned this from company circles on Friday. Insolvency administrator Stefan Denkhaus plans to announce details of the affected locations and the schedule on Saturday.

Of the approximately 12,800 people the company employs, 11,400 should keep their jobs. It was said that 1,400 would have to go. Denkhaus recently announced that half of the 900 jobs at the company headquarters in Essen would be cut.

The department store group filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of January. It is the third bankruptcy within three and a half years. At the time, Galeria boss Olivier Van den Bossche cited, among other things, the insolvencies of the Signa Group of the previous owner Rene Benko as the reason for the difficult situation. Their imbalance had an immediate impact: the financial resources promised for the restructuring of the department store chain in the wake of Benko's last bankruptcy were no longer flowing.

In January, van den Bossche and Denkhaus announced the search for a new owner and the preservation of Galeria as their goals. The company then said it negotiated with several potential investors. It has been known since the beginning of April that a consortium made up of the US investment company NRDC and entrepreneur Bernd Beetz's company BB Kapital SA wants to take over the department store chain.

Insolvency administrator Denkhaus wants to present the insolvency plan for the change of ownership by the end of April. The creditors will meet on May 28th at the Essen Messe to vote on it. The plan is only legally binding when the meeting of creditors accepts it and it is then reconfirmed by the court. Denkhaus wants to hand over the company to the new owners by the end of July.

The insolvency of Galeria and its consequences are closely linked to the discussion about revitalizing and upgrading German city centers. Since 2015, the number of retail stores in Germany has fallen from 372,000 to 311,000, according to the HDE trade association. The association expects 5,000 more closures this year.

On the one hand, the Karstadt and Kaufhof stores, with their extensive product ranges, are seen as important retail magnets in inner cities. On the other hand, in many cases they no longer fulfill these roles - otherwise they would not be in the difficult situation in which they find themselves.

Years ago, the online mail order company Amazon overtook department stores with its huge range of products. This trend increased during the Corona period.

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