Blokker to slash 2000 jobs, close hundreds of shops; Big Bazar, Xenos up for sale

Blokker Logo (photo: commons. Logo (photo: commons.

Store chain Blokker will be closing 100 branches in the coming year. Sister company Marskramer will close another 100. A total of 1,900 jobs will disappear at Blokker, Marskramer and at parent company Blokker Holding, the company announced on Tuesday. Blokker Holding will eventually cease to exist. Marskramer will continue on a franchise formula. And chains Intertoys, Maxi Toys, Big Bazar, Xenos and Leen Bakker will be sold off, ANP reports.

The company hopes that by focusing on just one shop formula - Blokker - they will be able to respond better and faster to changing customer needs. "We realize that this announcement has major impact on our employees", CEO Casper Meijer said. He called the measures "profound but necessary" to keep the company's head above water in a highly competitive market.

A total of 7 thousand people are currently working at Blokker Holding, Blokker and Marskramer. Some of the employees at the Blokker Holding head office will be moved to other positions in the retail chains. The about 200 shops that are closing are structurally loss-making and in unprofitable locations, according to the company. More information will be released in the coming months. 

The about 400 stores that will remain after this restructuring will all be converted to Bokker's new formula, which focuses on improving product range, pricing and product availability. About 200 stores have already been converted.

The company expects that this this reorganization will pressure Blokker's net results in the coming years. The company will try to sell the other retail chains "intact", maintaining the employment of some 13,500 workers in the Netherlands and abroad. Blokker already agreed to a social plan with the unions. The Central Work Councils of the individual companies will be consulted on the announced measures. 

"For the employees it's really terrible that everything Blokker Holding did over the past few years to prevent this, failed. Three months ago it was said that the group was on track", Nico Meijer of union FNV Handel said in a comment. "There is a social plan, but we obviously continue to follow the course of the arguments. The most important thing is that the employees find other work."