1. GA-English

Rescue mission for department store in Bonn: Politicians criticise concessions at Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof

Rescue mission for department store in Bonn : Politicians criticise concessions at Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof

In order to save the Karstadt branch in Bonn, the city of Bonn and the owner of the property want to make concessions in the rental agreement. Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof has not yet responded to the offer. But there is criticism from politicians.

On Wednesday, the department store group did not yet react to the offer made by Aachener Grundvermögen to the Essen-based company Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof to reduce the rent for the Karstadt property on Poststrasse by a good 50 percent for the next 20 years. This was announced by the press office of Aachener Grundvermögen. An inquiry by the GA to Karstadt and to lawyer Frank Kebekus, administrator in the Karstadt protective umbrella proceedings, remained unanswered.

City of Bonn has made an offer to Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof

The City of Bonn, as the owner of the Karstadt property of Aachener Grundvermögen, which owns the department store property, had in turn made an offer to lower the rent in order to also contribute to saving the branch in Poststraße which is threatened with closure. According to the General-Anzeiger, the rent is normally 750,000 Euro per year, and is to be reduced by 250,000. The rent owed is said to have been 2.5 million Euro so far. Now, the GA further learned from well-informed circles, it is said to be only 1.2 million Euro. Neither the city nor Aachen's land assets wanted to confirm the figures by saying that these were contractual matters.

With regard to the reduction of the rent, Lord Mayor Ashok-Sridharan had made an urgent decision after consulting the leaders of the council factions. The FDP, however, does not support this decision, as its council faction leader and mayoral candidate Werner Hümmrich announced on Wednesday. "During the Corona crisis many employees lost their jobs, were sent on short-time work or are still fearing for their future. Shops in the city centre had to close and had no chance of receiving municipal support. It is all the more incomprehensible that a deal worth millions at the expense of the city disproportionately favours one company", Hümmrich explained.

Closure of Karstadt could pose major problems for Bonn

The FDP is well aware of the importance of the location and the number of employees affected. "However, the question remains whether the Corona crisis is really the only reason for the imbalance. Rather, there is the danger of having an ailing business model subsidized by the city," said Hümmrich, who also finds the Karstadt offer questionable from a competition policy point of view.

Johannes Schott (BBB) also voiced reservations about waiving part of the rent. "On the other hand, however, we also see the concerns of the employees," he said, which is why the BBB had virtually abstained. In addition, nobody wanted to have a vacant property on Poststraße.

SPD council faction leader Angelika Esch also speaks rather of a "sour apple" that the city has to bite into. But she said that it was mainly about the preservation of jobs. She also said that it must be seen that the closure of Karstadt could present the city with far greater problems. "A year-long standstill would result in a much higher income for the city."

Karstadt worker’s council: hope that department store can stay in Bonn

In contrast, Sridharan and CDU council faction leader Klaus-Peter Gilles see the solution as "a good way" to save the Karstadt branch in Bonn and thus save 120 jobs. "In this way, we are also giving the Group a perspective for surviving the trough caused by the Corona pandemic," commented Gilles on the decision, which was taken in close cooperation with the retail association and the City-Marketing trade association.

"We would of course be happy if our company accepts the offer and we do not have to close as planned on October 31," said Works Council Chairwoman Therese Thrun on Wednesday. Officially, however, she had not yet heard anything from the management. She and her colleagues continue to feel the pinch.

Original text: Lisa Inhoffen

Translation: Mareike Graepel