Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof opens protective shield proceedings

Dhe department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has applied to the Essen district court for a so-called self-administered protective shield procedure. The company announced on Wednesday evening. “The tough economic consequences of the Corona crisis for inner-city non-food retail and the lengthy implementation of government aid via the bank have made this step necessary,” said von Karstadt Kaufhof.

Jonas Jansen

The Karstadt Sports sports chain has also fled under the protective shield. This means that companies with financial difficulties avoid filing for bankruptcy, they do not give up control of the company and follow a restructuring plan. At the same time, it protects them from access by creditors.

Owner also wants to give millions

The owner of Karstadt Kaufhof, the Signa-Holding, which belongs to the Austrian real estate entrepreneur René Benko, also wants to provide a three-digit million amount. Frank Kebekus has been appointed provisional administrator by the bankruptcy law firm Kebekus and Zimmermann in Düsseldorf, and he then oversees the operational business.

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There had previously been alarm signals that Karstadt Kaufhof was in trouble. The department store group had already submitted an application for an emergency loan to KfW two weeks ago. It is said to have involved a financial requirement of up to 700 million euros. Negotiations with the house banks have apparently not been successful in the past few days. In an internal letter, the process was described as “very bureaucratic” and time-consuming.

“Existential threat”

In such cases, the house banks have to take part of the amount of the support themselves, which is currently a problem for many traders across the industry. In a letter to the employees, Karstadt boss Stephan Fanderl spoke of an “existential threat”.

According to an internal letter, the company is currently losing 80 million euros in sales per week. The company has applied for short-time work for large parts of its 28,000 employees. Just over two weeks ago, the general works council had sent a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) demanding direct help “without bureaucratic effort”.

Karstadt Kaufhof, like many other dealers, had announced in the Corona crisis that it would stop paying its rent. The state-ordered closing of the shops left the company “no other choice”, it said in a letter to the landlords of the department stores, sporting goods, travel agencies and logistics properties. The long-hit retail group had cut thousands of jobs in the course of the merger of Kaufhof and Karstadt and only recently agreed on a social plan with the works councils. With the efficiency measures and the merging of the department stores, the long loss-making business should turn the corner.