Investment group SCP (from Luxembourg, but with Russian backers) has acquired Metro's ailing hypermarket chain Real. The German chain is to be cut in pieces, 10,000 jobs are threatened.
Only 50 stores remain
It is the end of a long-running saga for Metro: it finally found a buyer for its Real chain, that has been for sale for years. Not too many smiley faces though, because SCP only pays 300 million euros for its new prey - 200 million under the target that Metro set and nowhere near the one billion euros that Reuters first reported.
The hypermarket chain is chopped into pieces: despite the new owners' claim that a large part of the stores will continue to exist, SCP's plans mostly sound like a huge cost-cutting operation. Around three dozen stores are to be closed completely, while just fifty will continue to trade under the Real label - guaranteed for two years only, says German news website RBB24. Most of the stores will be sold to competitiors like Edeka, Globus, Kaufland or Rewe.
10,000 jobs in jeopardy
At present, Real's 276 stores still employ some 34,000 people, but about a third of that number would now be lost, trade union sources say. One of the buyers has already called that number "exaggerated", while the Metro group said it has sealed a deal with SCP about the conditions for those who will be sacked. Unions say they hope most stores will be taken over by Rewe, Edeka and Kaufland, who have better conditions for their employees.
Real has been troubling Metro for years now, as the German retail giant wants to focus on its wholesale activities. Last year, Real suffered losses amounting to over 250 million euros, CEO Olaf Koch said at the Annual General Meeting on 14 February.