Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof criticizes the 800 square meter limit when shops reopen. An expert opinion commissioned by the department store group is now available. .
Berlin Even if the first retail companies are allowed to reopen this Monday, the corona crisis has not ended for the industry. Commerce and real estate industry renewed their criticism of the different approaches of the federal states. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), on the other hand, warned against an “opening discussion orgy” in a meeting of the CDU presidium on Monday.
“Opening stores up to 800 square meters is a step in the right direction,” said Stefan Genth, chief executive of the Handelsverband Deutschland (HDE), the Handelsblatt newspaper. “But this limit also means that many frequency providers in the city centers are still closed.” That continues to threaten the existence of many companies.
The federal and state governments had agreed last week that after five weeks of closure, smaller shops should be able to reopen this Monday. The handling is very different.
In Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Saarland, among others, citizens can once again shop in shops with a sales area of up to 800 square meters.
The shops are also opening in some eastern German states – such as Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In Berlin, on the other hand, the Senate does not want to take its first decisions until Tuesday.
Controversial size question
“Last but not least, the technically unoccupied number of 800 square meters for the trade, but also the different handling of product ranges clearly raised questions,” said Andreas Mattner, President of the Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA), umbrella organization of the real estate industry, on Monday.
There is still controversy as to whether the rule on the size of shops also applies to shopping centers in general and they have to remain closed – or whether smaller shops can also open there.
“The cost pressure on dealers is increasing,” warned Genth. For most of the shops that are now reopening, the following applies: “100 percent costs with subdued sales expectations.” Therefore, landlords should approach their tenants in order to agree on good terms by the end of the year.
In many cases, it may still be appropriate to reduce rental costs to 50 percent until sales have returned to normal. “Otherwise, the big wave of bankruptcy threatens after the end of the closure phase.”
The imperative of the hour is to maintain the occupancy rate. “The tenant you lose is not so easy to replace in three months. It can be the economically better option to support the tenant, ”said Genth.
Real estate industry demands a commission
The umbrella organization for the real estate industry called for the setting up of an advisory committee to advise on how retail can resume operations. In addition to virologists and representatives of the Federal Government’s Council of Experts, this association should also include associations that focus on the areas of commercial and commercial real estate.
“This commission could deal with the much criticized rule for opening shops only up to 800 square meters and the still very different handling of ranges and distance regulations for visitors,” said Mattner.
In addition to this, ZIA President Mattner called for temporary tax framework conditions to be created for stationary retail, which would ensure that the retailers had much-needed liquidity. In addition to the tax deferrals that are currently possible, stationary retailers could be temporarily exempted from part of the additional VAT payment, ”said a statement on Monday.
Sales tax paid by the customers on the income would thus remain in the economic result for the dealers. “This would give retailers more liquidity to ensure their economic survival and thus jobs and diversity in city centers.
The burden on trade tax could also be reduced. Currently, spending on “rent and lease interest” has increased the tax base for trade tax. “If this assessment factor were not added,” says the association’s statement, “the rental retailer would be relieved of economic burden as a result of lower trade tax.”
More: The call for state aid does not stop. The real estate industry is particularly demanding support for three sectors – but not only in the form of emergency aid.
Frankfurt The corona crisis turns the lives of citizens and entrepreneurs upside down. Strolling through the shops, eating out, attending concerts, traveling – all forbidden. Against this background, different types of vouchers are currently being offered to consumers. They are intended to compensate for the costs of travel and events that have already been booked – or to support retailers and restaurants during the time of shop closure. What consumers have to consider.
Cultural and sporting events are canceled nationwide. As a result, customers cannot use their concert tickets, theater tickets or soccer season tickets. In such cases, the federal government decided at the beginning of April that organizers may issue vouchers to customers and that they would be valid until the end of 2021. If consumers don’t redeem them by then, organizers will have to pay the money out. The approval of the Bundestag is still pending. According to the previous rules, organizers had to refund the money two weeks after a cancellation.
The rule should apply to tickets bought before March 8th. It also applies to season tickets, such as museums and gyms. The government’s aim is to protect companies so that they do not run into liquidity shortages through a large number of recoveries.
Consumer advocates, on the other hand, criticize the planned new regulation. Klaus Müller, board member of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV), complains that consumers are burdened in an “unreasonable and unfair way”. He also complains that vouchers are not covered in the event of a bankruptcy. Should a provider go bankrupt, consumers will probably be left at the expense.
It is also controversial whether such a new regulation could even apply retrospectively. However, there are also providers who have already paid back ticket prices or at least have announced this. A prominent example: The Bundesliga soccer club Borussia Dortmund recently said that it offers ticket refunds to all fans – and at the same time thanked those who waived their claim.
There is a lot of struggle as to whether tour operators can also issue vouchers to their customers instead of reimbursing the costs, as was previously the case. After all, holiday trips are not possible for the time being, and mostly this involves large sums. The so-called Corona cabinet of the federal government decided that the voucher solution should also apply to package tours and plane tickets. The government is now trying to ensure that a corresponding regulation that runs counter to current EU law is allowed.
Consumer advocates are sharply attacking the advance. “We simply consider this inadmissible,” says VZBV travel law expert Felix Methmann. He insists that funds already paid will be returned to customers within two weeks of the cancellation. “The national legislator must not violate the European package travel directive.”
Methmann demands that the travel industry be helped with a travel security fund that is set up specifically for this purpose. “This has to be dealt with quickly now,” he says.
Roughly speaking, the federal government would set up a fund from which travel companies can withdraw money for repayments to customers. The companies would have to repay these funds to the fund within a few years.
The VZBV legal expert points out that even in this case, vouchers would not be protected against bankruptcy and that customers might not receive any consideration in return. “We fear that issuing vouchers will only postpone the problem for tour operators. After the crisis, when customers redeem the vouchers, the companies don’t get any fresh money either. ”
Some tour operators are already paying back easily. Others embrace customers by granting a credit for their next vacation in addition to the voucher.
If there are difficulties with the repayment, Marija Linnhoff, chairwoman of the association of independent, independent travel agencies, advises not to let go: “In such cases, customers have to write to the tour operator themselves – sometimes several times,” says Linnhoff.
“I can only recommend customers: If you want your money, stay steadfast and if necessary point out that you should hire a lawyer.” Even those who have received a voucher from the organizer without being asked and would prefer the money should, according to Linnhoff, ” send it back immediately and insist on repayment ”.
Voucher from local dealers
Restaurants and shops have been closed for more than four weeks, as have cafes, hairdressers and theaters. Some stores are allowed to reopen this Monday under strict conditions. Hairdressers have to wait until May 4th, and restaurants remain closed indefinitely.
In order to support local companies, various internet portals have been created over the past few weeks, on which consumers can buy vouchers from their favorite shops. The idea: You pay the voucher now, provide the company with liquidity and help so that it can open again according to the Corona restrictions.
One of these platforms is called “PayNowEatLater.de”, a similar offer, “Hilfelokal.de”, was developed by the financial start-up Optiopay and is being used by the retail group metro supported. There are also regionally limited providers such as “HelfenFRM.de” in the Rhine-Main region. The platforms charge a fee for their services. At “HelfenFRM.de” the customer pays an additional four percent of the voucher value for processing. At Optiopay, almost four percent are usually charged to the retailer.
The users usually receive the vouchers by email. Oliver Buttler, expert for consumer law at the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Center, explains the validity period: “A voucher is generally valid for three years. For example, if a season ticket is involved and the price rises within these three years, the consumer may have to pay the surcharge himself. ”
However, some of the platforms differ: With “PayNowEatLater.de”, the vouchers should be valid for at least three years. At Optiopay, on the other hand, retailers can individually decide on the validity, so vouchers that are only valid for one or two years are also common. The provider bases the flexibility on the fact that the offers are subject to price fluctuations.
At the same time, vouchers from local companies also run the risk of customers being left empty-handed. Buttler warns: “The customer bears the risk in the event of insolvency.” The cooperative insurer R + V also discovered the lack of insolvency protection. Last week he launched the “VR-ExtraPlus Hilft” portal – a separate variant of the “Hilfelokal” platform. Vouchers for a maximum of 10,000 euros are secured for each company. However, the sum can be reached quickly. According to R + V, it reserves the right to raise it later.
More: This is how insurance customers can save in the corona crisis.
Munich An employee once called his boss Michael Käfer the “Chief Emotional Officer”. The delicatessen king is not only responsible for the salvation of his customers, he is also always concerned about the mood of his employees.
Käfer now travels a lot in its own stores. The stress there is currently particularly high for the employees there, he tells the Handelsblatt. It is unusual to work with a mask all day. It helps if the boss comes by personally.
And the trade is also going very well. Champagne and other luxury goods are less in demand, but interestingly, people are currently buying more meat and sausages.
“People currently want high-quality home-cooked food.” The order service for the home and the online shop are also growing. Käfer is expanding its range, which will also help after the crisis.
Almost all catering orders are canceled
But none of this can compensate for the losses. The caterers in Germany are among the main victims of the crisis. In March, the industry association Leca had already written in a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel about cancellation rates of more than 90 percent. “However, due to the high level of personnel employed in event catering, this industry is not only particularly affected, but also particularly personnel-intensive.”
There is no improvement in sight, last week the ban on major events was extended to August.
There are around 900 short-time employees at Käfer. But the entrepreneur is not afraid. “I am an advocate that you have to have a healthy optimism,” says Käfer. The country has seen even worse crises, for example the wars.
His group of companies is also well prepared for a longer crisis in terms of liquidity. “We don’t have to worry about existence.” And so he is able to see the crisis as an opportunity. Some competitors will probably not last as long. He also used the time to optimize the processes. “Productivity is usually not particularly high in the service sector.”
But above all, he also developed new offers. He has already organized virtual birthday parties, for example. Guests are connected via video conference, food and drinks are delivered to everyone personally in a box.
Three-course menus for retirement homes
And from this week, Feinkost Käfer will be supplying retirement homes that have to close their kitchens because of Corona. The capacities in the kitchen of the party service in Parsdorf near Munich are large, high hygiene standards and refrigerated vehicles are available.
From breakfast to the three-course menu to coffee and cake, Käfer offers catering and holds promising discussions with several facilities. “It would be great if it became something.”
Feinkost Käfer is not only an institution in Munich. In addition to the parent company with delicatessen and fine restaurant, he runs, for example, a Oktoberfest tent, the restaurant in the Bundestag and catering for motorsport races and general meetings.
It will take a long time for business to come back completely, Käfer is convinced. “I’m already happy to be back at 50 percent at the beginning of next year.” Hardly anyone in Munich believes that the Oktoberfest will take place this year. Officially, the decision about the Oktoberfest will be made in June.
But the market could also shrink beyond that. Some companies will probably consider whether it will not continue to hold meetings and gatherings virtually in the future. “I don’t know whether the industry will ever reach 100 percent again,” says Käfer. But the entrepreneurs shouldn’t just moan now. “It is important that we think positively and are brave.”
After completing his studies, Michael Käfer opened the P1 luxury disco in Munich in 1984. Four years later he entered the business of his father Gerd and his uncle Helmut, and in 1995 took over the delicatessen and gastronomy alone.
Regional food instead of fruit from distant countries
In the beginning, the junior focused on strong expansion, an IPO and sales of 250 million euros were the goal. Not all plans worked out, from then on Käfer continued on a more moderate but sustainable growth path. Instead of flying fruits from exotic countries, regional products have been in demand for him in recent years. This trend is sustainable, says Käfer. He has now hired two sustainability specialists.
Even if the shutdown hit him hard, Käfer does not want to complain about the measures. Germany is one of the changes that can best cope with the crisis. “I have to pay a huge compliment to the welfare state,” he says, among other things, with regard to short-time working. “I understand even more that you have to pay high taxes.”
More: This is how the corona crisis affects retail, industry and hospitality.
Dusseldorf The ailing department store giant Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof is taking legal action against the closure of its branches in the corona crisis. The group has filed a lawsuit against the Münster Higher Administrative Court against the fact that department stores in North Rhine-Westphalia are not allowed to open.
According to the court, the country has now been given the opportunity to comment. A decision could be made in the coming week. A group spokesman initially did not want to comment.
Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof with its 28,000 employees is particularly affected by the store closures. Except for food and drugstore departments, which are separately accessible, all houses must remain closed due to the corona crisis.
According to the company, the company therefore misses a turnover of around 80 million euros every week. If the closure lasts until the end of April, the loss of sales should have totaled half a billion euros.
The governments had announced that the shops would gradually reopen on Monday. However, in a first step, only shops with an area of less than 800 square meters are allowed to open. The Karstadt and Kaufhof stores have an average sales area of 12,500 square meters.
However, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has embarked on a special route: it also allows furniture stores, including those of the large Ikea chain, and baby specialty stores to be opened. Galeria is not covered by this regulation. Several retail chains and associations had already criticized that this would result in an arbitrary distortion of competition.
Another way out remains Galeria in North Rhine-Westphalia: The state government has already announced that it should not be possible in NRW to reduce the sales area to 800 square meters by barriers, so that it can at least partially open. Other federal states, such as Lower Saxony, had promised this.
Group struggles for survival
Due to its difficult situation, Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof had applied for self-administered protective shield proceedings in early April. The protective shield procedure is considered the preliminary stage of insolvency, follows the same rules and often leads to a regular insolvency procedure.
It is reserved for companies that are not yet insolvent, but are at risk of bankruptcy. Under the protective shield, they are safe from access by creditors for three months and should therefore have enough time to organize their finances.
As has now become known, the Signa holding company of the Austrian investor René Benko sells 17 properties from the ailing department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. The buyers are funds from the financial investor Apollo EPF. According to the Bloomberg news agency, the purchase price is around 700 million euros. That is exactly the same amount that Benko claims to have invested in Galeria as an additional capital injection.
A Signa spokesman declined to comment on Friday. The transaction was already registered for review at the Federal Cartel Office at the end of March, and the competition authorities released the sale on Wednesday this week. Signa has been the sole owner of the troubled department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof and numerous department store properties of the company since June 2019.
More: Return to normality: what the relaxation of the corona rules means for the trade
Dusseldorf The Signa-Holding des Austrian investor René Benko sells 17 properties from the ailing chain of department stores Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof. The buyers are funds from the financial investor Apollo EPF.
According to the Bloomberg news agency, the purchase price is around 700 million euros. A Signa spokesman declined to comment on Friday. The transaction was already registered with the Federal Cartel Office for review at the end of March. The competition keepers have released the sale.
Frankfurt / Berlin The first Girocard owners in Germany have been able to pay amounts of up to 50 euros contactless at the supermarket till Wednesday, as it were. The German credit industry (DK) doubled the limit for card payments without entering a PIN in retail from 25 to 50 euros per use. The banking industry had announced the move to support contactless payment as a “hygienic payment method” in the current situation.
The first customers can pay at dealers in Hamburg, Kassel, Frankfurt and Munich at the higher limit, as the DK announced. Comprehensive changes would then follow. “It can be assumed that numerous other retailers will switch over the next few weeks and months due to the high level of interest in this solution.”
“Contactless” means that the customer does not have to insert his credit card or Girocard into a device. The data is encrypted and exchanged with the terminal at the cash register when the card is held up in front of the reader. With small amounts, it is not even necessary to enter the secret number (PIN).
According to the banking industry, 75 million of the over 100 million Girocards in Germany are now equipped with the contactless function. In the face of the corona virus pandemic, many stores are encouraging customers to pay in this way to avoid potential transmission. Credit card providers like Mastercard had recently raised the limit for contactless payments.
More: Consumers are increasingly paying for purchases in the corona crisis by card.
Losses of payment are increasing with landlords
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A survey shows that many commercial tenants can no longer pay in the Corona crisis. Some landlords also complain about failures in apartments. But the owners react less rigorously than expected.
DGermany’s landlords are feeling the consequences of the corona crisis more and more. While in the early days after the shutdown there were initially no rents in retail and catering, the payment default is now becoming more widespread. Some tenants can also no longer pay for offices and apartments and have to let the hour run.
The Berlin-based consulting firm Rueckerconsult randomly asked some players in the real estate market about crisis-related failures. As a result, a majority of 55 percent already have no payments. Almost 64 percent complain of failures in commercial space, 30 percent in apartments. The survey was carried out last week and is available WELT AM SONNTAG.
77 companies took part, including the Vonovia housing group, the Hamburg-based developer Becken and several municipal Berlin companies, as well as several family offices and private owners. In this respect, the result shows no representative, but an exemplary picture.
But the survey shows clearly enough that many landlords react less rigorously to the failures than the tenant would fear. According to the survey, for example, 74 percent of the landlords would be willing to waive all outstanding rent payments to small retailers. In restaurants and cafés, 64 percent would still be willing to take this step, while 45 percent would make real financial concessions to apartment tenants.
The actors seem to be aware that small tenants in particular have hardly any reserves and that even after the shutdown has ended, the income will not be sufficient to settle rent debts. In the case of restaurants, only two percent of the owners assume that the operators can pay in full. At four percent, it is not much more for individual transactions.
Vonovia no longer issues layoffs
However, landlords at large retail chains such as H&M or Deichmann, who have announced in the past few days that they want to suspend their rent payments, see things differently. You could only hope for a waiver from nine percent of the real estate professionals surveyed by Rueckerconsult. Almost all respondents also expect full additional payment for office tenants.
Special protection against dismissal has been in effect for tenants since April 1, both for apartments and commercial space. If they are unable to pay the rent due to a crisis-related loss of income, this should not be a reason for termination by the end of June. After that, however, deficits have to be paid.
The large housing companies in particular try to approach their tenants. Vonovia announced early on that it would no longer give notice of termination and would also forego rent increases – which goes beyond the law of the federal government.
Germany’s second largest landlord, Deutsche Wohnen, goes even further. The company not only waives terminations and rent increases, but also launches a 30 million euro aid fund. The aim is to compensate for the waiver of residential and commercial rents “in justified cases”. Craftsmen will also continue to be commissioned and may receive advance payments. The fund is to be financed by reducing the dividend from the original one euro to 90 cents per share.
This text is from the WELT AM SONNTAG. We would be happy to deliver them to your home regularly.
Munich Long lines in the discounters, crowds in front of the drugstores – and yawning emptiness in all other shops in this country. The corona pandemic is a disaster for many retailers in this country. The trade association HDE is already raising the alarm that its consumption barometer has dropped to its lowest level since the start of the surveys in October 2016, the industry association announced shortly before Easter.
But that’s not all: the outlook is bleak. Even in the coming months, a significant decline in purchases can be expected, the crisis has reached consumers: “Many companies have closed or are stopping production, more and more employees are already on short-time work or will be in the coming weeks, the number of unemployed is increasing. “
However, there is no reason for traders to resign. There are opportunities to do business even in times of crisis. Here are seven approaches:
1. Daily contact with customers
The 150 branches are closed, but the bookstore chain Hugendubel does not want to lose contact with customers. And so the Munich-based family business sends emails with reading tips to its customers several times a week. Consumers can order the titles in the online shop. But that’s not all: The Munich company with its 1700 employees entertains the buyers: “We approached many authors to organize their readings live from Instagram from home,” says owner Nina Hugendubel. The readings are actually there to liven up the branches. Now they are used more to initiate business in the internet store.
“A newsletter is an enormously effective tool for establishing a personal relationship with customers and keeping them long-term,” says Christian Rechmann, managing director of the Munich agency For Sale. These days, newsletters could contain essential information for customers. For example, that DIY stores that individual federal states had to close to the public are still open to professionals. This would preserve at least part of the business.
2. Coupons for better times
For Martin Kerner from the outdoor store base camp, vouchers are a blessing. The Karlsruhe merchant asked his 24,000 regular customers online to support him in the crisis. Customers also do this with orders placed online and by buying vouchers. “Doesn’t save normal sales, but is more than a drop in the bucket,” says the boss of more than 40 employees.
Vouchers are now supposed to flush money into the till to get through the tough weeks of exit restrictions. Clever dealers would promise their customers a “small thank-you discount” in the shop with the vouchers, agency boss Rechmann recommends. “This allows customers to show solidarity with their favorite shops and also be happy that they shot a bargain right away.”
Hugendubel also offers vouchers for Easter that can be sent to loved ones by email. And if you still needed a game for the holidays: In the week before Good Friday there was the starter pack of the modern Gravitrax marble run from Ravensburger with a 40 percent discount.
In addition to the dealers, the restaurateurs are also hard hit. There is also a solution for them: The “Paynoweatlater” initiative enables vouchers for restaurants, bars and cafés to be purchased online all over the country.
3. Local initiatives
In many cities, retailers have come together to still sell their goods. Kauflokal.com, for example, emerged from a Munich initiative by city center retailers who wanted to give local manufacturers a shop window. The association is now trying to act as an Internet portal to draw customers ‘attention to retailers’ online shops.
“Einzelheld” is similar, an initiative by two software companies from Stuttgart who want to offer regional retailers a platform on the net to offer their goods outside of their business. There are also delivery services in numerous other cities organized by local authorities or groups of dealers.
4. Virtual advice
Check it out, try it on, pack it up: that’s normally how it works in the Schöffel Lowa stores. The two Bavarian outdoor brands have invested in joint stores across the country in order to get closer to customers. Of course, that doesn’t work at the moment. That is why consumers are now being advised by telephone. If you order, the nearest shop will send you the new hiking boots or rain jacket. And not only that: from a purchase of 100 euros, there is a 15 euro discount.
Accessible via all channels, but not face to face: that is Tobias Schonebeck’s motto. The boss of the traditional Schäffer department store in Osnabrück is there for customers by phone, has his people answer e-mails and of course accepts orders in the web shop.
With outstanding success: In the days before Easter, sales had almost reached the normal level. That is certainly also due to the fact that Schonebeck delivers the goods in the region every day. Other retailers also offer online chats with consumers, giving them a feeling of being close to the people.
5. Awaken longing
No travel, no trips, no change: people in Europe have to stay at home. Many retailers and manufacturers have therefore started to arouse people’s longing for their products with beautiful pictures – or with useful tips. This can be done via Instagram, where products can also be sold directly. Or about films on the Internet.
Alpine brand Salewa, for example, is showing a streak of two-time bouldering world champion Anna Stöhr on YouTube from next week. Like Salewa, the Bavarian Bergzeit outdoor shop is part of the South Tyrolean family company Oberalp. Bergzeit explains online how climbers can train at home and offers yoga exercises for mountain athletes.
“Service providers in particular, but not just such providers, can often also help customers digitally with their offers,” says agency boss Rechmann. “Be it the online yoga class, digital learning or an original recipe for cooking and cooking. They share their knowledge and stay in touch with customers. “
6. Sell online – even without your own internet shop
If you still have to do without your own internet store, you will hardly be able to build it during the crisis. But there are alternatives for traders. The start-up Sportmarken24, for example, enables stationary sports retailers to offer their goods on the large internet marketplaces. The small company collects a fee for this, but saves the merchants from investing in their own online shop.
The online marketplace Ebay offers special advice for stationary retailers these days, waives sales commissions in the next few weeks and wants to enable merchants to enter the Internet business. The Internet fashion retailer Zalando also tries to attract shopkeepers to their own platform. “Connected Retail” is the name of the program that is intended to make it as easy as possible for merchants to use Zalando as a digital store.
Special conditions apply until the end of May: “We completely waive our commission and pay the sales to partners on a weekly basis,” says Zalando manager Carsten Keller. Shops could easily connect their inventory. Zalando takes care of the online content, payment processing, customer care and supports the partners with a personal contact.
Some brands have closely integrated their retailers into online sales. For example, consumers can shop directly from the bike bag manufacturer Ortlieb in their web shop. The Franconian producer strikes a local dealer. It is the same with the fashion retailer Funky Staff: “All end-user orders always go directly to our retailers,” says CEO Uwe Bernecker.
7. Smart advertising
In times of crisis, many companies stop advertising to save. If you advertise smartly, you can stand out. An example of this is Schöffel. The sports brand has quickly converted its advertising slogan “I’m out” into “I stay in”.
Or the Intersport dealer association, which uses “Buy Online = Buy Local” to reach consumers on social media and thus establish a relationship with local shop owners. This could pay off, says advertising expert Rechmann: “Advertising that deals with the current Corona topic is even perceived extremely positively.”
More: How sports brands try to save their dealers.