Coup de théâtre on the works council of FNG, the parent company of, among others, Brantano with headquarters in Mechelen. The unions want to send the top of FNG home and ask the court to appoint temporary administrators. Our sister newspaper reports that The standard. The company wants to close 47 stores and 287 jobs are at risk.
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FNG’s special works council, which had already started this morning, has just developed spectacularly. The unions announce that they have filed a petition with the company court in Mechelen with the request to appoint temporary administrators.
The immediate cause is a lack of confidence at the top of FNG. They also have no confidence in the CEO ad interim, Yves Pollé. The unions suggest the court to appoint an alternative summit that is honest, it is said. The court is expected to indicate fairly quickly whether it will respond to this question.
The unions’ move interferes with FNG’s plans to organize rescue themselves. Tomorrow morning, the Enterprise Court will consider the application of three companies (FNG International, Brantano and Market Retail Belgium) for judicial reorganization. It promises to be an eventful session.
If the court accepts the request, it can also put forward experts such as auditors and specialists in corporate law. Another theoretical possibility is that the court approves the judicial reorganization, but appoints prosecutors with broader powers.
The unions do not believe that the superstructure of FNG can be saved. They speak of a “zombie holding”. They point to the lack of transparency and complex structures with offshoots into “tax havens”.
The unions hope that employment in the operating companies can be maximally saved. They are therefore aiming to restart the underlying store formulas such as CKS and Brantano. They also don’t seem to want to give up the shops Fred & Ginger just like that.
The opposition of the unions poses a challenge for FNG, whose strategy is to make a number of central services (e-commerce, data know-how, centralized purchasing …) available to the different brand names and retail formulas. Cross-selling was also targeted. If FNG falls apart, that strategy will have to be reviewed.
The unions meanwhile advocate full transparency at FNG. They believe that only the public prosecutor’s office and / or a judicial investigation can bring that clarity. FNG represents a turnover of half a billion and the same amount of interest-bearing debts. The company is negotiating with the banks to drop much of that debt. It also aims to cut 287 jobs and close 47 stores.