June 28, 2018 / 9:42 AM / 4 months ago

Kaufhof talks to be delayed by possible joint venture -union leader

DUESSELDORF, Germany, June 28 (Reuters) - Labour representatives at Hudson’s Bay German department store chain Kaufhof are expected to put the brakes on restructuring talks in the face of reports about a possible joint venture with Austria’s Signa, a union leader said.

Sources told Reuters this week that Hudson’s Bay was discussing a possible joint venture involving Kaufhof with rival chain Karstadt, owned by property and retail group Signa.

On June 29 a meeting of labour representatives with Kaufhof management is scheduled to discuss a restructuring deal aimed at turning around the loss-making store chain.

The two sides had hoped to reach an agreement by the end of the month, but now the bargaining committee is likely to “take the tempo out of the talks”, trade union Verdi’s chief negotiator for Kaufhof, Bernhard Franke, told Reuters on Thursday.

Verdi has said any restructuring deal needs to include plans to both cut costs and invest in the business.

“It wouldn’t make much sense now to just pretend that nothing is going on,” Franke said.

Among other factors, the negotiators would need to resolve questions about what impact a possible joint venture with Karstadt would have on investment plans, he said. (Reporting by Matthias Inverardi; writing by Maria Sheahan; editing by Jason Neely)

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