Location of affected unit(s)
Retail Trade, Except Of Motor Vehicles And Motorcycles
Retail Sale In Non-Specialised Stores
47.1 - Retail sale in non-specialised stores

5,000 - 9,300 jobs
Number of planned job losses
Job loss
Announcement Date
25 May 2009
Employment effect (start)
1 July 2009
Foreseen end date
31 December 2009


The German subsidiary of UK-retailer Woolworths, owned since 2007 by British company Argyll Partners, filed for bankruptcy in April 2009. The stores are still operating as wages are paid by an insolvency fund. The company or parts of it may be sold to an investor.

On 25 May 2009, the administrator announced plans to transfer about 9,000 employees to a transfer-agency. In this case, the employees would be trained while the Federal Employment Agency pays a wage supplement. According to the administrator, a new investor will have the chance to select and to re-hire the employees from the transfer agency. Negotiations with the works council were still ongoing.  

On 22 June 2009, FAZ quoted a spokesperson of the administrator saying that an investor buying all of Woolworth Germany is not in sight. There is, however, some interest in medium-sized stores employing 30 to 40 persons.

On 25 June 2009, the works council approved plans to transfer 9300 employees in July to a transfer agency for six months. Less than half of all jobs are to be saved by re-establishing 142 Woolworth stores under a new legal framework. Some 169 small stores out of a total of 311 will be either closed or sold. According to the works council, some retail chains have shown some interest. The employees will stay in a transfer agency and will be re-trained. The hope is that the new owners will re-employ these employees. 

142 medium-sized stores will remain open. The administrator plans to bundle the surviving stores in a new transfer company "Neue Woolworth Deutschland". The stores of Neue Wopolworth Germany is expected to employ 20 to 30 persons each. These plans, however, depend on a decision of the private equity firm Ceberus to lower the rents of Woolworth sites. Ceberus owns one third of the real estate. 

As of 25 June 09, 98% of all 9,300 employees still have to sign the new contract to be transferred to a transfer agency.


  • 22 June 2009: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
  • 26 June 2009: Handelsblatt
  • 25 May 2009: Handelsblatt


Eurofound (2009), Woolworth, Bankruptcy in Germany, factsheet number 69031, European Restructuring Monitor. Dublin, https://restructuringeventsprod.azurewebsites.net/restructuring-events/detail/69031.