It was foreseeable that both the second and the first lockdown would pose serious problems for large parts of the retail sector. »The state corona aid for retail was mostly just a drop in the ocean last year. That is usually not enough even for the rent payments in the lockdown months, ”complained the head of the HDE retail association, Stefan Genth, at the beginning of the week. For him it is particularly unfair that large companies are excluded from the standard bridging aid. These days there are increasing reports of how large chains want to rehabilitate themselves at the expense of the workforce.
In addition, it is not correct that the big players are excluded from state aid in the crisis. On Wednesday evening, the news agency dpa announced that the federal government had offered the department store group Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof (GKK) to help it with a loan of up to 460 million euros. As security, the group is supposed to make real estate and inventory available for this. The chain, which is part of Signa Holding owned by Austrian billionaire René Benko, owns lots of land in many German city centers.
In the course of the first lockdown, the group slipped into a deep crisis. Ultimately, it was decided to take responsibility for recovering from insolvency in a so-called protective shield procedure. At the end of September, the process was completed, which above all meant massive cuts for the employees. More than 40 branches and around 4,000 jobs fell victim to the restructuring caused by the crisis. According to the service union Verdi, which fought to keep as many branches and jobs as possible, there was “sadness and anger” among employees. Because at the same time, according to Austrian media reports, owner Benko paid a dividend of over 100 million euros in the crisis year. This is said to have been three times as much as a year earlier.
The perfumery chain Douglas also uses the red pencil with the employees. On Thursday, the company announced that it would cut almost every seventh position in Germany and want to grow faster in online trading. Around 600 of the more than 5200 branch employees in Germany are said to lose their jobs as a result. In December, the company tried to prevent the corona-related closure of its stores by simply reassigning them to drug stores. After heavy criticism, also from the trade unions, the group quickly rowed back again.
The cutback plans of the fashion chain H&M caused a lot of stir these days. According to a report by Business Insider, the group intends to cut at least 800 jobs in this country. The spicy thing about the plans: The fashion chain apparently wants to get rid of employees who are still on parental leave. Mainly these are young mothers. Although they are currently legally protected against dismissal through their parental leave, if this ends, they too can be fired. »H & M’s approach shows capitalism without makeup. You want to get rid of young mothers because they are less profitable «, commented the chairman of the Left Party, Bernd Riexinger. The company management apparently sees responsibility for vulnerable employees only as an annoying obstacle to raking in money.
H&M, Douglas and Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof will certainly not be the last companies from which bad news will come for employees as a result of the corona crisis. According to market researchers, the lockdown and general uncertainty mean that people are less inclined to spend money. This results in less sales for retailers who in turn pass the pressure on to their employees.