The bankruptcy and relaunch of Dutch-Belgian mail order firm Neckermann within 24 hours was a put up job, Belgian union officials are claiming.
The Dutch and Belgian arms of the company were declared bankrupt by a court in Breda on Tuesday but several hours later, plans for a relaunch were already agreed. The next day, the company relaunched with a new website.
BBTK union spokesman Bart Leybaert is quoted by BNR radio as saying the fact the new website was launched the day after the bankruptcy points to pre-planning.
‘We all know it takes longer than a day to make a professional website,’ he said. In addition, the separation of good and bad credit, the transfer of good customers to a subsidiary and the fact the same team of directors are in place are all cause for concern, he said.
The union, which represents Belgian workers losing their jobs because of the bankruptcy, wants the curator to investigate if fraud was involved.
Neckermann director Andreas Ezinga told BNR the accusations are ‘scandalous’ and ‘not based on facts’.
‘I can understand that people are upset and angry to be losing their jobs,’ he said.
The new website was produced quickly under what he called a ‘pre-pac’, a look at the options with a ‘silent curator’ before bankruptcy. ‘So yes, the website was not put together within 24 hours. But we have a lot of experience with internet businesses and we have the expertise in house to realise something like this quickly.’
Just 15 of the 200 Neckermann workers are keeping their jobs in the new set-up. Most of the job losses will affect the company’s operations in the Zeeland village of Sint Jansteen. Neckermann went bankrupt in Germany in 2012.
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