German department store chain Galeria is looking for a new owner now that Austrian parent company Signa Holding has collapsed. The chain, which also owns Belgian Inno, hopes to come away from its current owner’s financial predicaments unscathed.
Protection against creditors
Yesterday, the news emerged that Signa had sought protection from creditors in order to start a restructuring process. The Austrian real estate company is weighed down by huge debt and is in acute financial trouble. Its owner and CEO, Austrian national René Benko, already had to step aside. In his wake, a restructuring expert was appointed to find the necessary money to finance a reorganisation. Now that has failed, the court appointed an administrator.
The collapse of the Signa empire does not immediately mean the end for department store chains Galeria and Inno, which are housed in a separate company (Swiss Signa Retail Selection AG). The latter has filed for protection against creditors in a separate case, German media reported: the retail branch does not want to be dragged into Signa’s bankruptcy.
“This step allows the board of directors and management, in cooperation with the administrator, to handle the business in an orderly and transparent manner, under their own responsibility and independent of the bankruptcies of the rest of the Signa Group”, Galerian’s chairman of the board of directors, Christian Wenger, said. The company can now start looking for a buyer. Belgian subsidiary Inno was already up for sale.
Signa Retail Selection also owns half of Swiss department store chain Globus, but that chain is not affected by the ongoing proceedings. The Thai Central Group meanwhile reaffirmed its commitment to securing and supporting its European luxury businesses “regardless of the financial situation of its partners”. The group took control of Selfridges a fortnight ago to keep them out of the financial problems at Signa.