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Business

Iconic German mail-order chain nears liquidation

German mail-order retail group Neckermann looks set to be liquidated by the beginning of October. The insolvent company has been unable to find a suitable investor, and some 2,000 jobs will be slashed as a result.

German mail-order company Neckermann said on Wednesday the group would be liquidated by October 1. The firm said in a statement insolvency laws would make that step unavoidable, although talks were currently continuing on a last-ditch solution.

"Following months of negotiations with potential investors, no suitable investor has been found to match our requirements," Neckermann stated. It added that most of the 2,000 workers employed in the mail-order segment would be laid off by next month. It emphasized that endeavors were continuing to find work for many of them in other companies.

The mail-order group had filed for insolvency in July after its owners, US investor Sun Capital Partners, refused to put up money for a large-scale restructuring scheme.

Debt crisis taking its toll

Neckermann's dilemma adds to the upheavals many other German retailers have gone through in 2011 and 2012. The sector was prospering until a few years ago, but over the last 24 months some of its oldest players have forced out of the market completely or are experiencing harsh difficulties to stay afloat.

At the end of June this year, the family-run drugstore chain Schlecker shut its doors for good, meaning the loss of nearly 25,000 jobs. Other major German retailers, including Karstadt and Metro, have been bending over backwards to make up for huge losses.

"A number of retailers have sought to remain competitive solely by slashing costs," said Jörg Funder from the Institute for Commerce and Retail (IIHD) in Worms, Germany. "But they have failed to optimize their range of products and services at the same time."

hg/mz (AFP, Reuters)