Almost 200 candidates have already expressed interest in taking over one of Delhaize‘s 128 branches. These include entrepreneurs, internal employees and external candidates.
The external and internal candidates that have contacted the head office include owners of affiliated Delhaize stores, internal associates and candidates from outside the company, the retailer reports in an internal communication that landed in RetailDetail’s mailbox. In fact, the number has now reached almost 200, spokesman Roel Dekelver confirmed to news agency Belga.
Entrepreneurs also report to RetailDetail that they are also contacted by prospective investors who want to step into a store’s capital with them. These are people who do not necessarily have an affinity with running a supermarket, but who want to co-invest in an acquisition, as a ‘silent partner’.
Not right away
Prospective buyers will have to be patient: after a failed meeting on Tuesday morning, which the angry unions left after only 15 minutes, further social consultations will follow on 21 and 28 March. Moreover, according to the unions, the effective transfer of supermarkets will not be able to happen until after the six-month notice period for the collective agreement on store organisation expires.
In the same internal message, the retailer also admits that 280 jobs will be cut at the head office as a result of the implementation of the future plan. Of those, 33 are filled by external consultants or are open, which means that 247 employees are involved. There will also be 72 new positions, as Delhaize indicates that it will continue to invest in its own logistics to ensure optimal service to the store network.
The announcement that Delhaize wants to hand over 128 integrated stores to independent operators provoked very emotional reactions from unions and employees, who fear for their working conditions. While the retailer claims to guarantee that staff will keep not only their jobs and wages, but also all fringe benefits after the takeover of their stores, the unions attach little credence to this. They announce a long struggle, with strike action that could drag on for weeks or even months.
(This article was updated on 17 March in order to reflect an update by Delhaize, raising the figure from 150 to 200 candidates.)