KarstadtQuelle chief resigns
17 May 2004
ESSEN – Citing health reasons, Wolfgang Urban submitted his resignation Monday as chief executive of the troubled department store and mail-order group KarstadtQuelle.
The company said Urban, 58, would step down effective 31 May to be succeeded by executive board member Christoph Achenbach.
In what appeared to be a face-saving solution, the company announcement said an extraordinary meeting of the supervisory board had agreed to Urban’s request to step down “for health reasons”.
The move which came amid growing indications – also reported in the media – that Urban was to be dismissed amid the declining sales and further losses at Germany’s fifth-largest retail trading group.
Achenbach, 41, has till now been in charge of the mail-order operations of the Quelle and Neckermann units in the KarstadtQuelle group.
Earlier, the daily Die Welt newspaper reported that opposition to Urban had been growing among the supervisory board which considered him to be responsible for not having moved quickly enough in revamping KarstadtQuelle, which has suffered in the downturn in Germany’s retail sector.
Europe’s largest department store and mail-order group, KarstadtQuelle last year saw its revenues drop by 3.4 percent to EUR 15.2 billion. The decline continued in the first quarter of 2004, with revenues dropping 4.4 percent.
Overall, KarstadtQuelle has said it is bracing for a 3 percent drop in revenues in 2004, although Germany’s retail sector is expected to show a slight increase.
Die Welt said KarstadtQuelle’s parting with Urban could be expensive, with his contract last year having been extended to 2009.
Subject: German news