Discount retailer Big Bazar is closing 20 of its 120 stores and is calling for 20 stores to be given a rent cut, as the company struggles to deal with higher costs and lower consumer demand.
Director Jerke Kooistra told news agency ANP that 80 stores are doing well, 20 are “not healthy” and 20 are doubtful, but declined to give further details. Staff who work in the stores set for closure can work in another outlet, he said.
The closures and rent cuts are essential to keep the company operating. If landlords are not willing to renegotiate the terms of the lease, then “we have no choice but to take the ugly route”, Kooistra said.
Several retail property owners have already gone to court because Big Bazar has failed to pay the rent. Last month, judges in Alkmaar said the company could be evicted from two stores for “systematically failing to pay on time”.
And last week, another landlord asked judges in Amsterdam to declare the company bankrupt for failing to pay some €20,000 in rent.
Kooistra told NOS in July Big Bazar was grappling with an “enormous” increase in costs. “Think about energy prices,” he said. “Last year we increased wages 11%… and we are often tied to old rental contracts which are index linked, so you need to think about rises of between 6% and 11%. This is a long-term, serious attack on a retailer’s budget.”
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