The new co-owner of the ailing department store chain Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, the US investment company NRDC Equity Partners, has made a public statement for the first time.

“We are taking over Galeria because we believe that a traditional department store chain has a right to exist on the German market,” said Jack Baker, founding partner of NRDC, to the German Press Agency. They are convinced that they have a good plan “to ensure the long-term success of the company.”

This week it became known that a consortium of NRDC and German entrepreneur Bernd Beetz’s company BB Kapital SA wanted to take over Germany’s last large department store group. Beetz appeared in Essen on Wednesday together with insolvency administrator Stefan Denkhaus and Galeria boss Olivier Van den Bossche. NRDC representatives were on site but did not comment. Baker and Evans explained: “We are very excited to be part of this acquisition, but we are not the main event. Our job is to support Bernd and the management team in implementing the strategic concept.”

Beetz and Van den Bossche manage operational business

Beetz wants to manage the operational business together with Van den Bossche in the future. The Belgian should remain managing director, Beetz wants to provide him with advice “as chairman”. “We fully support existing management and its strategic plan,” said Lucas Evans, managing partner at NRDC, regarding the future division of responsibilities. “Our role is to support Mr. Beetz and the leadership team in implementing the strategy, which we are confident will deliver positive results for the company.” NRDC left questions about the purchase price, the distribution of shares between the shareholders and the amount of the planned investments unanswered. Beetz also did not comment on this.

According to a spokesman, Jack Baker and Lucas Evans take the leading roles on the US side of the new ownership consortium. Jack is the son of Richard Baker, who is also a founding partner of NRDC and was co-owner of Galeria Kaufhof for several years from 2015 to 2019 through the Canadian retail chain Hudson’s Bay. After the merger with Karstadt, he sold his share to the Signa Group.

More than 70 of 92 branches are to be taken over

The new owners are expected to take over more than 70 of the current 92 Galeria branches. This is part of the signed investor agreement. How many locations actually remain and how many have to close depends on the further course of the rental negotiations and should be determined at the end of April. At the end of May, the creditors’ meeting is scheduled to vote on the insolvency plan of the insolvency administrator Denkhaus. If the meeting of creditors accepts it, it must be reconfirmed by the insolvency court. Denkhaus wants to hand over the company to the new owners by the end of July.