"We want to be in safe hands" says on the poster that a Real employee is holding out to the shareholders of the parent company Metro, who are rushing to the general meeting of the retail giant.
"I'm not a residual item," says a colleague's jacket. Hundreds of employees of the supermarket chain that was about to be busted came to the Congress Center Düsseldorf on Friday morning to demonstrate on the sidelines of the shareholders' meeting to safeguard their jobs and their wages.
«We would be happy if we knew what was happening to us: whether we would be closed or whether we would go on to someone. This uncertainty is bad. Then they get on their nerves, »says a protester. And one of her colleagues adds: The problem is that “we are simply left aside as if we were a product that is somewhere on the shelf. Where it is said that this shelf must now be cleared ». Whistling concerts ring out to the shareholders. Also fly a few firecrackers. The mood is irritable.
However, none of the noise penetrates into the assembly hall. Metro boss Olaf Koch defends the sales plans there. Real recently pulled the entire group in the red, he says in front of the shareholders. "We can no longer carry on this business."
The Düsseldorf-based retail giant wants to concentrate entirely on its wholesale business in the future and therefore sell Real. At the annual general meeting, Koch affirmed that the company has now reached a “commercial agreement on the sale” with the financial investor SCP. The key points were negotiated. Only the last details are currently being clarified.
After the sale, the supermarket chain with currently around 34,000 employees is to be broken up. The buyers want to continue operating a core of 50 real markets for at least 24 months. However, the majority of the branches should go to other dealers such as Edeka or Kaufland. Around 30 branches are to be closed.
With the sale of Real, Metro expects net inflows of EUR 300 million. That is 200 million euros less than was hoped a few months ago. But the ailing daughter's business has not developed well in recent months.
Due to the income from the sale of Real and a significantly larger sum from the sale of the China business, the Metro expects cash inflows of more than 1.5 billion euros in the next few months. As a result, the metro "will be on a stronger footing in the balance sheet than it has been in a long time," emphasized Koch. It will also significantly increase the company's scope for acquisitions.
Shareholder representative Jella Benner-Heinacher from the German Association for the Protection of Securities (DSW) is not very impressed by the outcome of the negotiations so far. The Real sales process was “tough as chewing gum,” she complains. The tremor must finally be ended. The decision to sell the supermarket chain is right. But the metro should not make too big concessions on the purchase price. After all, the real estate contained in the sales package alone is worth 900 million euros.
The shareholder representative also shows understanding for the demonstrators in front of the assembly hall. “For us, the tremor may be over in the summer, and then it will only start for the employees. Because they don't yet know where to go. » However, the demonstrators have long since left. The chants "We are here, we are loud because you steal the future from us" have died away.