Department store group V&D declared bankrupt, 10,000 jobs at risk

V&DDepartment store group V&D was declared bankrupt on Thursday afternoon although the stores and La Place restaurants will remain open pending a potential relaunch.

The bankruptcy was granted to make it easier to sell off or relaunch parts of the company, a spokesman for the receivers said.

A number of potential buyers have come forward and various scenarios are under discussion, one source told broadcaster Nos. One of these includes reopening around half the stores, the source said.

Financial problems

The group, which has 62 department stores and some 65 La Place restaurants nationwide, requested court protection from its creditors a week ago because of its acute financial problems.

The bankruptcy means all 10,300 workers have lost their jobs. Their salaries will be paid by the state jobs centre UWV into January.

‘This will be an extremely uncertain New Year for them,’ said Martijn den Heijer of the CNV trade union federation. ‘We hope to make sure employment is a high priority for the receivers.’

Warm weather

V&D, founded in 1887, has been in financial difficulty for some time and this has been made worse by the warm weather in November and December, plus a ‘number of incidents and unforeseen situations’, the company said in a statement last week.

‘The group’s shareholder and financier was, unfortunately, no longer prepared to cover this shortage of liquidity and continue the existing financing,’ the statement said.

Earlier this year V&D tried to reduce staff wages by 5.8% in an effort to get its finances back on track. That move was rejected in court. However, V&D did reduce its workforce by 400 jobs and forced its landlords to accept lower rents.

Sun Capital bought V&D in 2010 from US private equity group KKR, which broke up the successful Vendex retail group and sold off its various parts.

V&D has not made a profit since then, racking up a loss of €49m in 2014 on sales of €604m. Sun Capital has propped up the company several times with extra cash, doing so again in July when the company’s banks pulled out.

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