Closed Kaufhof branch in Cologne: The lockdown is hard on the group
Oliver Berg / dpa
The ailing department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof (GKK) is apparently receiving state support: The federal government wants to help the last large German department store group with a loan of up to 460 million euros.
According to information from the dpa news agency, the committee of the State Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) gave the green light for a so-called subordinated loan.
The background to the relief effort: The around 130 department stores of the group, which was hard hit by the corona crisis, are indispensable crowd pullers in many pedestrian zones.
With this support, the federal government is making an important contribution to safeguarding jobs and bridging the current difficult situation for the company, it was said in Berlin.
The aid measures are apparently linked to extensive requirements and legal requirements, and the group also has to pay appropriate interest.
Lufthansa and the travel company Tui had previously received state aid.
The federal government founded the Economic Stabilization Fund (WSF) in March 2020 to support large companies with guarantees and capital aid in the corona crisis and to preserve jobs.
GKK is the second largest department store group in Europe and the market leader in Germany, employs around 17,800 people and operates 131 department stores.
The corona crisis had hit the already ailing company massively.
During the first lockdown in April of last year, the group had to seek rescue in a protective shield procedure.
Only at the end of September did he complete the bankruptcy proceedings.
Shutdown thwarts restart plans
The insolvency proceedings were supposed to enable the last remaining German department store group to restart by closing more than 40 branches, cutting around 4,000 jobs and canceling more than two billion euros in debt.
At the time, CEO Miguel Müllenbach wrote in an employee letter that Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof was back on the field and would turn the table of successful retailers upside down in the coming weeks and months.
But the second shutdown probably thwarted the plan.
He hit the company twice hard because online trading is still a weak point of the group.
Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof recently made less than five percent of its sales on the Internet, so that the loss of sales in the stationary business could hardly be compensated.
The GKK general works council chairman Jürgen Ettl therefore only warned a few days ago in an interview with the “Lebensmittel Zeitung”: “The fixed costs are currently consuming the reserves.
It's easy to calculate how long we would survive a lockdown. "
In a letter to Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD), the German Retail Association (HDE) had campaigned for support for the department store group.
With 310 million customers per year, GKK is "a heart of German city centers," wrote HDE President Sanktjohanser.
"The department stores and their attraction are vital for survival, also for smaller retailers in the neighborhood, the gastronomy and thus all of inner-city life." They are "systemically relevant".
The owner of the department store chain is the Signa-Holding of the Austrian billionaire René Benko, who, according to information from various sources, supported the department store chain with a three-digit million amount last year.
Icon: The mirror
mic / dpa