FNG files for bankruptcy

Winkel van Brantano, een keten van retailer FNG
Image: FNG

Belgian fashion group FNG has filed for bankruptcy, as it was unable to find investors in time. The bankruptcy does not involve all of FNG's activities, however: the Dutch branch asks for protection against creditors, the Scandinavian branch is completely unaffected.

 

Partial bankruptcy

This morning, FNG announced that its planned restructuring will be halted and that it has instead filed for (partial) bankruptcy, after a clash with the banks leaves the group without funds to buy autumn/winter collections. The move may put up to 3,000 jobs in jeopardy.

 

The branches affected by the filing are the Belgian chains Brantano, Fred & Ginger (from which FNG started out in the first place) and the former Coltex. A number of Dutch activities hope to be protected by the granting of protection against creditors, although it is not made public which activities are included. The holding company (FNG NV), Belgian chain CKS and the Scandinavian branch (Ellos) are spared - as of now.

 

Partial takeovers?

The management has released a statement, saying that it "expresses its hopes that this inevitable step does not mean the end for all activities of the group" - hinting that at least parts of it may be close to an acquisition by an unnamed buyer.

 

There are rumours that a number of former shareholders (including Wouter Torfs of the eponymous shoe store chain and Emiel Lathouwers, founder of outdoors chain AS Adventure) are planning to acquire FNG's activities in Belgium and the Netherlands - although both have denied such rumours so far. Moreover, several sources say that ousted FNG founder Dieter Penninckx is the driving force behind these attempts.

 

However, time had run out for FNG to solve its problems without a bankruptcy: it needed 70 million euros just to buy the new collections for its stores, and another 20 million to pay a loan by tomorrow (31 July). In its press release, management put the blame squarely at the banks. It is their decision not to make additional finances available for the FNG Group and to freeze some of FNG's bank accounts that rendered the group unable to continue its activities, the statement said.