One third of German Praktiker stores to close

FRANKFURT Fri Aug 9, 2013 8:19am EDT

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FRANKFURT Aug 9 (Reuters) - Insolvency administrators of German DIY chain Praktiker said just under a third of its stores will close by end-October because there is little chance of finding a buyer for the loss-making outlets.

The administrators last week appointed advisers at Macquarie to help in the hunt for investors and said initial talks led them to believe there was little interest in 51 stores.

"These stores have been making losses for a long time and are hindering the other stores," insolvency administrator Christopher Seagon said in a statement on Friday.

Praktiker filed for insolvency last month after talks with creditors failed, triggering fears of heavy job losses.

Praktiker's administrators earlier this week secured financing to ensure products could be delivered to the stores and operations could continue while they examine options and potential investors for the group.

Closing down sales at the 51 stores slated for closure will start next week. The stores planned for closure employ 1,500 permanent staff plus 1,000 part-time staff.

Seagon said he hoped investors from other types of retailer could buy up the empty stores and take on any employees, adding that some interest had already been shown.

Along with its namesake blue and yellow stores, a familiar sight in German out-of-town shopping centres, Praktiker operates the Max Bahr brand, which has also filed for insolvency.

Of the 300 stores in the insolvency process, 168 are Praktiker stores, 78 are Max Bahr stores and a further 54 are Praktiker-branded shops that have recently been converted to the Max Bahr signage.

The administrators will examine operations at the other stores. Interest has already been received from investors looking at parts or all of the Max Bahr and Praktiker groups, Seagon said. Firm bids are due in by September.

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan, Editing by Thomas Atkins)

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