Cologne / Bonn –
NRW Economy Minister Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) described the cartel office's decision to release the merger between Karstadt and Kaufhof as "good news": "The merger is a good fit for the future viability of department stores: they can increase their competitiveness and attractiveness," he said Minister. He goes on to assume that the company takes into account the concerns of employees in their decisions: "We will pay close attention to this in the coming weeks and months and are in close exchange with all those involved," says Pinkwart.
As part of its investigation, the Bundeskartellamt surveyed around 100 trading companies and traders, including the largest online retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers in Germany. The categories of luggage (suitcases / bags), laundry, sports / outdoor, games / toys, home textiles and office and stationery were examined in more detail. The market position of Kaufhof and Karstadt is the strongest in these categories, the office justifies its selection. According to the investigation, which was 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 later this month – and thus in time for the Christmas business. The Karstadt dam Signa will hold a stake of 50.01 percent in the new joint venture, HBC 49.99 percent. The helm at the new Warenhaus AG will be taken over by Stephan Fanderl, a proven trade expert who has renovated Karstadt and still manages it. The new department store giant, with a turnover of almost five billion euros behind the chain El Corte Inglés from Spain, the number two in Europe. The new company employs 32,000 people at 243 locations in Europe.
The pooling of purchasing power could allow Kaufhof and Karstadt to negotiate better terms with their suppliers than before. In addition, according to industry experts in administration, data processing and logistics, there could be greater savings. It has not yet been decided whether the future corporate headquarters in Cologne (Kaufhof) or Essen (Karstadt) will be.
It is also unclear how many jobs will be lost in the new company. The Austrian self-made billionaire René Benko, who bought Karstadt for one euro in 2014, described the speculation that up to 5,000 jobs were threatened as "irresponsible."
In many cities there is still unrest. Feared branch closures and associated with a desolation of the inner cities. But with a wave of closures right after the takeover is probably not expected. According to experts, the costs would be too high in view of the leases, which often last for decades.