At the end of the month, Belgian chain Galeria Inno will be forced to close its webshop. The chain points to its new owner and says its plans for Inno remain unclear for now.
Waiting for the new boss
Galeria Inno has informed its customers by e-mail that its webshop will be closing. Even during the seasonal sales period, only the chain's physical stores will feature discounts. The decision comes from above and seems to be a consequence of the recent merger between Karstadt and Inno's German owner Galeria Kaufhof.
"The decision to terminate our webshop comes from our German parent company Galeria Kaufhof," explains Jok Junius, director of e-commerce at Galeria Inno, in Belgian business newspaper De Tijd. Junius remains convinced of the need for a webshop: "We have the ambition and the need for a new webshop, but we're waiting for our new shareholder's strategy."
That new shareholder is Signa, the holding behind Karstadt, which entered into a joint venture with Galeria Kaufhof's owner HBC Europe last summer. Although it is said to be a merger, Karstadt holds the reins with a slight majority in shares and in the board of directors. Karstadt is in a better financial state than HBC, which has incurred heavy debts.
No local investments for now
HBC Europe included not only Galeria Kaufhof and Galeria Inno but also department store chain Hudson's Bay in The Netherlands. Whether Inno can count on any more attention remains unclear, even for the chain's own management. "We do not know yet whether Karstadt believes in a centralised approach," Junius continues. So far the Inno webshop has been in the hands of Kaufhof.
Inno wants to open its own Belgian webshop, but will have to wait for the new shareholder's e-commerce strategy. "As long as that remains unclear, we will not make any major investments locally." For now, the department store chain will have to make do without a webshop.
Spokeswoman Martine Baetslé claims there is nothing to indicate that Galeria Inno might be dropped by the new holding. "Inno is one of the group's most profitable divisions. The difficulties in the retail industry have caused a drop in turnover, but efficient work has made profits go up," Baetslé explains. In 2017, Inno's turnover did indeed decrease by 2 % but net profits increased by 7.3 million euros.