Macintosh Retail Group announced yesterday that its receivors asked a Dutch court to withdraw a suspension of payments granted to the retail company earlier this month, and to simultaneously decide on bankruptcy for the group.
Macintosh is the parent company of several shoe retailing concepts and a significant partner for some international sports footwear companies in the Benelux countries, with Scapino in the Netherlands and Brantano in Belgium. The move could lead to a change of ownership for at least some of the store concepts owned by Macintosh, which is the largest shoe retailer in the Benelux countries.
The request for bankruptcy of the parent company was made yesterday to the court of first instance in Limburg, which is established in Maastricht. Suspension of payment remains in place for five of the Macintosh group's subsidiaries: Dolcis, Invito, the Hoogenbosch Retail Group, Manfield and Pro Sport. Court authorities have appointed the same administrators, John Huppertz and Ben Meijs, for all the companies.
No such request for protection was filed for the Scapino footwear chain in the Netherlands. Nor has any request been filed for the application of the Continuity of Enterprises Act for the Brantano chain in Belgium. MRF STM, the company that licenses the Steve Madden brand, isn't involved in the proceedings, either.
Scapino is a leading player in the Dutch footwear market, with 204 stores around the country. Macintosh's website states that nearly all of them feature an outdoor and sports shop trading as Aktiesport, a relatively price-aggressive sports retailer owned by the Unlimited Sports Group (USG). This Dutch company also owns Perry Sport and Time Out in the Netherlands and Primo in Belgium, and in 2012 it sealed a partnership with Scapino. Brantano is a chain of 139 stores in Belgium and Luxembourg, which was acquired by Macintosh in 2007 and also sells a range of urban sports footwear. Macintosh further includes 32 Pro sport stores selling sneakers in the Netherlands.
Macintosh, which employs the equivalent of about 5,600 full-time staff, reported a loss of €101.6 million on sales of €870.6 million for 2014. The company's situation apparently deteriorated in the last years due to rising costs, as well as the sharp rise of online sales in the footwear market. Earlier this year Macintosh divested footwear stores in the U.K. and other assets, to take advantage of its strong position in the Benelux footwear markets. After improvements in this business in the first three quarters, trading suddenly weakened in November, making it impractical for Macintosh to implement its intended transformation program in the short term.
The Dutch group said in a press release yesterday that all stores remained open and that the receivors, together with the relevant management boards, are exploring all possible scenarios for Macintosh. This includes a sale of the group as a whole or in parts, in the interest of the employees, creditors and other relevant shareholders.
The statement comes after a few turbulent days for the Macintosh group. On Dec. 21, the company said it was in the final phase of exploration of strategic options that it has been considering since the beginning of the year. It pointed out that it was allowing interested parties to conduct due diligence into its business, warning shareholders that they were likely to get a very limited return on the equity.
The next day, however, Macintosh said it had concluded that none of the potential options would result in a viable comprehensive solution for the group's situation. Therefore, the management board and the supervisory group decided to file for suspension of payments, first for the parent company and then for five of its subsidiaries. The group added on Dec. 23 that it was exploring all possible scenarios, including a sale of the whole group or parts of it.