Düsseldorf · Following the announcement that Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof would be closing some of its stores, an atmosphere of gloom has descended upon the 15 NRW cities affected. Bonn's Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan is in talks with both commercial tenant and landlord.
The announced store closures of Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof are creating a catastrophic mood in the 15 NRW cities affected. At a crisis meeting with Ina Scharrenbach (CDU) of the NRW Ministry for Communities and Local Government, there was an "extremely emotional" atmosphere, according to statements from those who participated in the talks.
It was mainly city mayors who participated in the discussions and they announced as a whole that they would do everything possible to avert the branch closures. The intended receiver for their message was Frank Kebekus, the insolvency law specialist for Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof, who joined the meeting by telephone. In March, the retail group had applied for bankruptcy protection and announced the store closings.
In Dortmund and Leverkusen, branches have already been saved from closing. “Without wanting to anticipate the outcome of the negotiations, the city of Bielefeld is cautiously optimistic that its branch can also be saved," said Gregor Moss, head of the building department, to our editorial team.
The Lord Mayor of the City of Bonn, Ashok Sridharan, also confirmed that he was in talks with commercial tenant and landlord. Because of the ongoing negotiations, however, the city did not want to comment. A city spokeswoman said that not a day goes by without Essen's Lord Mayor Thomas Kufen holding talks with Karstadt.
70 million euro emergency aid from the state
Many cities such as Neuss, Mönchengladbach, Düsseldorf and Cologne still have to worry about the future of branches in their areas. In the event that the stores cannot be saved, Minister Scharrenbach doesn’t want a repeat of the uncertainty that followed when the Hertie department store chain closed. For this, the state is digging into its pockets and has set up a 70 million euro emergency aid program.
The money will be used to enable the cities to reduce vacancies. For example, cities could use the funds to rent the smaller, vacant shop premises on a temporary basis. The money is to be available before the end of the year. Municipalities must submit the applications by October 16.
(Orig. text: Maximilian Plück und Georg Winters, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)