Fashion concern Etam Groep has asked the court in The Hague for deferred payment because of "the increased pressure in the Dutch fashion retail market and eCommerce's strong surge". Today, the court has granted the request.
Consequences for staff unclear
There was a rumour this morning that Etam Groep, which owns brands like Miss Etam and Promiss, would ask the court for "deferred payment" and the company has now confirmed the news: "Despite the organisational restructuring and cost reductions, Etam still has not managed to adapt to the altered market situation", management admitted in a press release.
Today the court has granted the deferred payment and two people have been temporarily put in charge to check which options the company has for the future. These may include a search for a new owner, a complete bankruptcy or a restart in a smaller form.
It is unclear what this means for the staff: "Etam Groep's employees will continue working for the time being and get paid accordingly", the press release said. Labour unions fear this might mean there will be job cuts: "Etam has previously undergone restructuring programs and closed down stores as well. I did not expect the company to be in such an ordeal", CNV's Martijn den Heijer said. The labour union hopes the company can relaunch itself: "We expect clarity in the upcoming weeks."
Den Heijer feels this is a "worrying sign": "Miss Etam has been winning consumer prices left and right for years and the company's online sales have also been growing. If such an esteemed company can't make it through, then you fear for the other brands. It seems pricing is becoming more important and that shows that the crisis has not passed yet."
Already cut 240 jobs
The Dutch retailer currently has 2,200 employees and some 200 stores (130 Miss Etams and 70 Promiss stores), but has been struggling for a while. It cut 140 jobs in 2013 and another 100 at the start of the year at its main office in Zoetermeer. Declining sales have impacted the company for years and it now wants to focus more on its online sales.
Temporary CEO Frits van Peski has been in charge of Etam Groep from the start of the year, taking over from John van der Ent who joined V&D, a company that is also in quite some trouble.