Belgian food wholesale company Huyghebaert has been declared bankrupt yesterday. The owner of chains Prima, Cashwell and Uw Buurtwinkel has had a turbulent year, ending in bankruptcy and a possible job loss for 97 people.
The group from Mechlin had already announced collective redundancies last year, as turnover (- 10 %) and profit (- 80 %) suffered tremendously in the group's financial year 2012. Experts believe the company failed to hold its ground in an increasingly competitive Belgian market.
Possible solutions, like a buy-out from the Heylen group, all failed while banks lost their faith in the company's stability with 3 CEO's in a single year. "There has been a lack of decisive action on the part of the owner's family, as the shifts in management demonstrate. That is probably why its main bank, BNP Paribas Fortis, has probably withdrawn its faith even faster", RetailDetail founder Jorg Snoeck said.
97 people will now lose their jobs, mostly in the home depot in Mechlin. There is no clear indication what will happen to the Cashwell stores, which are also part of the Huyghebaert group.
"Void after CEO Appel's death"
Snoeck believes the company's struggle started when its CEO, Marc Appel, died in 2010. He was the driving force behind the resurgence of the Prima stores, but suddenly died of cardiac arrest four years ago.
Snoeck also thinks it was a tactical mistake from the owner's family to take matters back into their own hands, but without sufficient control over the company. He feels they should have appointed a specialized CEO, able to keep close ties with the daily workings of the company: "In the current market, customers are increasingly demanding and you have to continuously keep listening to your customers to know where they want (you) to go."
Two thids of turnover also came from 80 Prima stores, which also was an "unhealthy" situation according to retail expert Snoeck.