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SIGNA acquires kika/Leiner, plans first KaDeWe department store in Vienna

By Simone Preuss


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Austrian real estate company SIGNA Group announced in a press release that it has signed the contracts for the acquisition of kika/Leiner, Austria’s second largest furniture chain.

In the news release, SIGNA detailed that the acquisition includes the operative retail business, with its approximately 6,500 employees, as well as the approximately 100 properties in Austria and Central and Eastern Europe. "The acquisition ensures the continuation of the traditional company kika/Leiner and provides an Austrian solution," confirmed SIGNA.

According to Steinhoff International Holdings, kika/Leiner’s parent company, the originally agreed purchasing price of 450 million euros was increased to 490 million euros. SIGNA also paid off kika/Leiner’s close to 800 suppliers who were waiting for outstanding payments totaling close to 50 million euros.

"After approval by the relevant antitrust authorities, a comprehensive restructuring and future concept will be developed together with the management. All structures and processes will be reviewed and improved for the future", said Dr. Stephan Fanderl, CEO of SIGNA Retail. "Parallel to that, all efforts must be focused on improving operations and increasing store profitability.“

For the SIGNA Retail Group, the acquisition of kika/Leiner also marks the entry into brick-and-mortar retail in Austria as well as successful trading interests in Germany and in European sports e-commerce. Accordingly, SIGNA owner Rene Benko should now be able to fulfill a long-held wish, namely to bring German luxury department store KaDeWe to Austria.

This would be possible because SIGNA operates German department store chain Karstadt Group together with KaDeWe in Germany and has been trying for years to bring the latter to other countries - Vienna could soon be the first location. According to information from Austrian news daily "Die Presse", the Leiner branch at Vienna's Mariahilfer Straße could soon be rebuilt into the first KaDeWe department store outside of Germany.

For now, SIGNA can only commence the planning stage and has to wait with actual renovation work until the acquisition, which was registered last week with the federal antitrust authority, has been approved. A mere formality that can take a few weeks though. The real estate properties are also subject to a confirmatory due diligence.

In latest developments connected with the acquisition of kika/Leiner by SIGNA, German department store chain Kaufhof’s Canadian mother company Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is said to be in talks with SIGNA to form a joint venture for Kaufhof and Karstadt, reported Reuters quoting sources familiar with the development on Monday.

The SIGNA Group is a privately managed industry holding company with two core sectors: SIGNA Real Estate and SIGNA Retail. The company is one of the most important real estate investors in Europe, with more than 12 billion euros in real estate assets and an additional development volume of around 8 billion euros. With more than 25,000 employees and more than 4.5 billion euros in sales, it operates well-known retail companies.

The SIGNA Retail Group includes the four independent retail platforms SIGNA Department Store Group, SIGNA Premium Group, SIGNA Sports Group and SIGNA Food & Restaurants Group, which have around 200 locations in the best city centres and more than 100 online store in 20 countries, contributing to the strong growth of the SIGNA Retail Group in Europe. The focus is on the consistent further development of the omni-channel strategies of the individual commercial platforms.

Photo: leiner.at