The judge again did not give Big Bazar more time to conclude agreements with creditors. For the third time, the court in Leeuwarden refused to appoint a debt expert who could have found a way out of the financial problems of the series of deals. Big Bazaar’s lawyer assumes it will be declared bankrupt on Tuesday.
The chain promised to receive millions of euros in financing during a court hearing last week. This money was supposed to convince the judge to temporarily stop the bankruptcy applications submitted by the creditors and appoint a restructuring expert. But the judge is not confident that the chain can still be saved.
“Despite the potential for a capital injection, the ruling is that Big Bazaar does not have sufficient resources to meet its current obligations during the cooling-off period to be announced,” the judge said.
Big Bazar said it faced financial difficulties this summer, partly due to significant price increases on the shopping street, which made customers spend less. Much to the annoyance of retail landlords and suppliers, many invoices have not been paid recently. Many stores have already closed. Of more than 120 branches, only less than a hundred remain, with debts running into tens of millions of euros. To force bills to be paid, several creditors filed a bankruptcy petition for Big Bazar.
Now that the latest rescue attempt has also failed, the chain’s bankruptcy filings will be processed again on Tuesday. Lawyer Oscar van Oorschot believes bankruptcy will come immediately.
The chain has already been in a similar situation twice and both times a new request to appoint a debt expert was submitted just before the deadline. As a result, bankruptcy filings have been repeatedly postponed.
New rescue operation
Now, this new rescue is no longer an obvious option, according to Van Oorschot. “Every action by Big Bazar is a postponement of implementation. We have fought, but we know where the line is and it has been reached.”
Van Oorschot also said earlier that nearly 1,300 Big Bazar employees would be paid their salaries on Monday. This did not happen. “We would really like to pay the amount, but many creditors are against it.” It is unclear when employees will receive their wages. “The question is whether this is legally possible. Employees always get their money,” said Van Oorschot, who emphasizes employees’ right to a wage guarantee.
According to Van Oorschot, the fate of Big Bazaar will soon be in the hands of the museum curator.
CNV: Big Bazar’s impending bankruptcy is a hard blow to employees
Bankruptcy represents a “hard blow” to employees. This is what the CNV union said in its response. Nearly 1,300 employees “worked hard until the last minute to keep their store afloat,” notes CNV Director Eric Maas.
So he admires the Big Bazar staff. “Even when the employer apologized to creditors through a full-page ad in the newspaper and ignored his employees, they still defended Big Bazaar,” says the manager.
The employees also tried through the works council to give the company more time to put its finances in order, but to no avail. “The fact that it probably didn’t work out is very hurtful,” Maass said in the lead-up to the bankruptcy hearing, scheduled for Tuesday.
If the court declares bankruptcy on Tuesday, the future of the employees is “very uncertain,” according to Maas. “Many will have to look for another job, while in the meantime their work at Big Bazar must also be handled properly.”
Moreover, Maas doubts whether there are candidates to resume the series of deals. “The number of branches increased, but the chain never became profitable. Also, the various acquisitions did not achieve the desired financial results. Corona created an additional burden of debt that Big Bazaar never actually recovered.
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