The works council of the ailing department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has expressed disappointment that the online retailer has withdrawn its takeover bid for branches. “It would have been an opportunity,” said Galeria general works council chairman Jürgen Ettl of the German Press Agency on Friday. “It’s a bit frustrating that the towel was thrown in so quickly.” The first talks were constructive.

“We have indeed withdrawn our offer for the 47 branches,” said boss Markus Schön on Thursday evening to the dpa, thereby confirming media reports. “The rumors about much more extensive closures and the conflict situation that has become clear to us in this context in the last few days lead to changed framework conditions that are not acceptable to us,” he said. The committees decided that after meetings lasting several hours.

More offers are expected

Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof announced on Wednesday that it had received an initial takeover bid for a number of branches. This still exists, said the spokesman for the retail giant on Thursday evening of the dpa. Before Christmas, the company is expecting further offers from several other interested parties. He did not provide any further information. Ettl also said that he was expecting several offers.

The last large German department store group had again sought rescue in a protective shield procedure at the end of October. Galeria boss Miguel Müllenbach said at the time that the branch network, which last comprised 131 department stores, had to “be reduced by at least a third” as part of the protective shield procedure. This means that more than 40 department stores are available. According to the Galeria spokesman, it has not yet been decided how many and which branches are to be closed.

The company is currently in talks with the landlords. In addition to the rent itself, there are also other questions such as a possible reduction in the rental area, energy-related renovations or modernization and construction measures. Whether a location can be retained will also depend heavily on these talks. “We assume that there will be clarity about this in the course of January next year,” said the spokesman.

The department store has to reinvent itself

Ettl called for a new department store concept. “It needs a concept that takes customers and employees with it,” he said. The digital and the stationary business must form a homogeneous unit in which the added value is visible to everyone. “I think the department store has a justification.”

According to Ettl, Galeria is above expectations for the current Christmas business despite the difficult situation. “Thanks to the customers for this – and as a works council, a special thanks to the colleagues who have done this despite the great uncertainty.”