On Tuesday, when the court representatives received five bids for parts of Makro Cash & Carry Belgium, there was hope that there would also be prospects for Makro employees. But the doubts that existed then about the quality of the offer have now been confirmed. According to our information, the agents reject the offer of the French company in formation, which was a candidate for both the Makro and Metro stores. That party was the only one to bid for both Makro and Metro, promising to save 70 percent of the threatened jobs.
The company concerned was assisted by a certain Karel Verschueren, a Fleming who was born in Duffel but has his domicile in Switzerland. Research in the Belgian Official Gazette shows that twenty years ago, Verschueren was already sentenced by the Court of Appeal to two years in prison with a postponement for, among other things, abuse of trust and tax fraud. Since then he occasionally appeared in files as a candidate bidder of companies in difficulty.
The bid, which was reportedly very brief, did not meet the bid requirements and was therefore not retained. In concrete terms, this means that it seems the end of the story for Makro’s approximately 1,400 employees. Of the 1,900 people who work at Makro Cash & Carry Belgium, 506 jobs could be saved by the Dutch catering specialist Sligro. That figure also includes about a hundred jobs for employees at the shared headquarters of Makro and Metro.
Still money for severance pay?
The positive news is that Sligro is offering more than 55 million euros. Money that can be used to pay severance pay to Makro Cash & Carry employees. Any remaining assets of the staff can then be recovered through a special fund.
Sligro is bidding for 10 of the 11 Metro stores, but has made it clear that it wants to take over all employees. The Antwerp-North branch is not included in the offer because it overlaps with Sligro’s own branch, which also includes the former ISPC in Belgium, as well as Java. The branch in Evergem is also not a priority for Sligro, again due to possible overlap. It is expected that the Limburg hospitality group Van Zon may buy it.
The court representatives also received two other offers, including that from Vincent Nolf, the director of Makro Cash & Carry Belgium. It had initially presented itself as a motivated party, but ultimately only made a symbolic bid for Metro stores. There was also a local bid.
Sale with discounts up to 90 percent
The bids will be submitted to the corporate court on Monday and would be dealt with on Friday 2 December. Creditors and other parties involved can then argue for or against the bids. In any case, December seems to be the month in which the company court pronounces itself.
So for the Makro stores it threatens to be the end of the story in December. The company started last Monday with modest sales discounts of 20 percent, but the next brochure already assumes a 70 percent discount. Anything left over would be sold at a 90 percent discount.
It is expected that the company Makro Cash & Carry Belgium will file for bankruptcy after the transfer of the Metro activities. The company court will then appoint receivers who will put the contents (racks, rolling stock and the like) up for sale. Makro started in 1968 as the first in Europe and elsewhere with the idea of a cash-and-carry wholesaler that would focus on small self-employed people. The retail formula was unable to adapt to the changing market.