Cologne / Bonn –
The NRW economy minister, Andreas Pinkwart (FDP), described the decision of the press office to release the Karstadt and Kaufhof fusion as "good news": "The merger is a good solution for the future profitability of department stores: it can increase their competitiveness and attractiveness," said the Minister. It further assumes that the company takes into account employees' concerns in its decisions: "We will pay particular attention to this in the coming weeks and months and we will be in close contact with all parties involved," says Pinkwart.
As part of the investigation, the Bundeskartellamt conducted a survey among approximately 100 trading companies and traders, including the largest online retailers and traditional retailers in Germany. The categories of luggage (suitcases / bags), laundry, sport / outdoor, games / toys, home textiles and office and stationery items have been examined in more detail. The market position of Kaufhof and Karstadt is the strongest in these categories, the office justifies the choice. According to the investigation completed earlier than expected, the merger "did not raise any competition concerns that would justify a ban on the project".
It is expected that the merger will take place this month – and thus during the Christmas business. Tama Karstadt Signa will hold 50.01 percent of shares in the new joint venture, 49.4 percent. HBC. The helm at the new Warenhaus AG will be taken over by Stephan Fanderl, a proven commercial expert who has renovated Karstadt and continues to manage it. A new giant in a commercial store, with a turnover of almost five billion euros for the El Corte Inglés network from Spain, number two in Europe. The new company employs 32,000 people in 243 locations in Europe.
Combining purchasing power can allow Kaufhof and Karstadt to negotiate better terms with suppliers than before. In addition, according to industry experts in the field of administration, data processing and logistics, there may be more savings. It is not yet established whether it will have its headquarters in Cologne (Kaufhof) or Essen (Karstadt).
It is also not clear how many jobs will be lost in the new company. The Austrian self-made billionaire René Benko, who bought Karstadt for 1 euro in 2014, described speculation that up to 5,000 jobs were at risk as "irresponsible".
There is still anxiety in many cities. I was afraid of the closure of branches and was associated with the destruction of inner cities. But with the closing wave just after the acquisition is probably not expected. According to experts, the costs would be too high for leases, which often last for decades.