In late January, Schlecker announced that they would be declaring bankruptcy. The plan was to close some branches, but to do everything they could to keep the company afloat. After months of political manoeuvring and failed attempts to secure adequate funding, the discount drug store finally announced that they would be closing their doors for good. Not the restructuring that had been hoped for.
Despite last minute attempts by politicians in the other major parties, it has been suggested that the FDP politicians have made a stand against using State funds to save private businesses. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated that everything will be done to help the workforce, who are primarily women, find new employment, it does not look good for the majority of the newly unemployed.
Of those who lost their jobs in March, only roughly 10% have found full-time positions. And those were young, relatively easily rehired retail workers. The people who are now losing their jobs when the corporate headquarters close are typically older and as a result it is more difficult for them to return to the workforce.
One small silver lining in all of this is that Munich investor Dubag has already agreed to take over IhrPlatz and Schlecker-XL, which are two Schlecker subsidiaries. The 5,000 jobs that are immediately being saved as a result of Dubag's actions might not mean anything for the other former Schlecker employees, but those whose jobs are being saved are sure to be breathing a sigh of relief.
While leafing through the Letters to the Editor of several local Munich papers, I was struck by how unsympathetic many readers are to the plight of Schlecker and its workers. Although some politicians are milking this topic for all its worth, the public seems resigned to the fact that in difficult financial times some companies will not survive.
Countless smaller companies have downsized or gone out of business entirely to very little fanfare. From the consumer's perspective, Schlecker's competitors are doing a comparatively superior job and in all likelihood will benefit accordingly.