What will become of the real stores?

It is a wait that wears on the nerves. "We’ve been stalled for a year now", reports barbara lorenz, works council chairwoman at the real store in hallstadt (bamberg district). Like her and the other 130 or so employees in the warehouse, all real employees nationwide are affected.

Since the metro retail group announced in the fall of 2018 that it intended to part with the real stores, there has been a great deal of uncertainty. "Everyone would like to know where the road goes", says lorenz.

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In the meantime, the federal cartel office has approved the sale to the hamburg-based real estate investor redos. Accordingly, there are three future scenarios for the 277 real stores in germany: a significant number of locations – around 180 according to unconfirmed reports – are to be taken over by competitors such as edeka, rewe, kaufland or globus. In addition, there should be a "healthy core" of stores, which will continue to be operated, a metro spokeswoman explained in response to a question. Here, too, there is speculation that it will be about 50 markets that will be covered by metro or. Redos to be continued. According to the metro press office, metro will retain a 24.9 percent stake in real’s operating business, but can sell this stake after three years.

Interested parties currently bid

However, some stores – according to speculation there are almost 40 – are facing complete closure. "A few stores will certainly be closed," says lorenz, said the metro spokeswoman. But that would be the case even without the sale to the investor.

It is not yet possible to predict when it will be clear what will happen to which store. "First it should be completed in september. Now we’re talking about mid-november", reported the hallstadt works council chairwoman. Paul lehmann, verdi trade secretary in upper franconia, does not expect a decision before january. "We still have a big question mark", he said.

The offers from retailers are currently being received and sifted, according to the metro group. It could take a few weeks to evaluate all the offers for the individual locations, especially as overlaps are to be expected. After that, the packages are to be put together and then submitted to the federal cartel office for registration. "We cannot comment on further details due to the ongoing sales process", said the metro spokeswoman.

Concentration on wholesale trade

With the real stores, metro is once again parting with a retail segment. In the past few years, the group had already abandoned major brands such as kaufhof, praktiker and media saturn. "Diversification in the retail sector is now "poison, said metro boss olaf koch. That’s why the company is now returning to its roots, to the wholesale business. Metro had regularly made losses with the real chain in recent years.

There are 15 real stores in franconia, seven in upper franconia (bamberg, hallstadt, twice in bayreuth, coburg, kronach, kulmbach), three in lower franconia (aschaffenburg, twice in wurzburg) and five in central franconia (ansbach, neustadt/aisch, twice in nuremberg, schwabach).

Which of them will close, be sold or remain on the market for the time being is completely open. "Business is good for us", says barbara lorenz about the highly frequented hypermarket in hallstadt. But it will probably have no influence on whether a market goes well or badly. Rather, the offers are decisive. She could not imagine edeka, rewe or kaufland because of the existing stores in the surrounding area. "We would of course like to stay in the core, which is to continue operating", she says. Currently, lorenz does not assume that the store will be closed completely. "We are certainly a desirable property, if only because of our location," says barbara lorenz, she says.

But whether all employees will be taken on in the event of a sale? You won’t find the wide range of products that real offers at other stores. At least metro boss koch has assured that he attaches importance to "employees being taken on when the company is sold – and on their current contractual terms".

But even a statement like that can’t prevent the current frustration. "The mood is very bad. Some have already left the company, reported lorenz. "Everyone fears for the future."

The fact that there are fewer employees is clearly noticeable. "The work remains the same," says, says lorenz. But the worst thing is "this waiting," said. "That really gets you down."