8 April 2004
AMSTERDAM — Apeldoorn-based electronics company Megapool was declared bankrupt on Thursday, resulting in almost 900 job losses initially, but takeover talks are reportedly close to agreement.
Megapool workers were informed at a special meeting in Zutphen that they were out of a job. The company’s stores have been closed all week and it requested a temporary stay on debt repayments in the Zutphen Court.
Besides the 900 employees, Megapool also has about 200 workers employed in the shops of its franchisees. The company has 47 franchise stores, which are independently-owned shops operating under the Megapool name.
Of its 126 non-franchise stores, 79 closed in the Netherlands this week and 16 stores in Belgium also closed. The company’s distribution centres in Tiel and Ede were also forced to shut their doors.
Receivers H. Brandsma and A. de Bruyn are now locked in talks to arrange a takeover. But the company’s multi-million euro debt proved to be a stumbling block because potential buyers did not wish to take over the debt.
The company has thus been declared bankrupt so that it can start with a “clean slate”. It is not clear what parties are interested in taking over Megapool, public news service NOS reported.
The receivers expect a certain amount of the company’s stores will be taken over, meaning that the staff who have been made redundant will reclaim their jobs. They will probably be forced to renegotiate conditions.
Brandsma and De Bruyn are also demanding that the buyer takes over obligations to customers who have recently entered into advanced payment plans. They also want to sign an adequate deal regarding product guarantees.
An official with union FNV Bondgenoten said a deal was close to being reached and it likely that the business would continue in a streamlined form, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The company said earlier this week it was experiencing financial difficulty due in part to stiff competition in the electronics sector. It also claimed consumer confidence in the company was negatively affected due to recent media reports.
The FNV Bondgenoten blamed the company’s financial problems on the board of directors, claiming no real decisions regarding company policy had been taken in the past six months.
The union also said Megapool was suffering as supermarkets and chemists were also selling computers, digital cameras and DVD players.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news