Mr. Mager, you have just opened your newly designed Galeria branches, which are supposed to guarantee a future for the ailing department store group.

Now 2G applies everywhere there during the important Christmas business.

Are you running out of money again?

Jonas Jansen

Business correspondent in Düsseldorf.

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We were really on the right track.

Our Galeria 2.0 strategy, which we launched in October in the form of the three showcase branches and improvements to logistics, systems and processes, is working very well.

Our figures show that.

Against this background, despite Corona, we hired 2500 new employees in the first half of the year.

But the high incidences, 3G in local traffic, 2G in retail, the cancellation of Christmas markets and open Sundays, lead, as the trade association has also made clear, to frequency losses of up to 50 percent in city centers.

That is like a quasi-lockdown in the middle of the Christmas business.

You have already received 460 million euros from the Economic Stabilization Fund.

There was always speculation about a second loan.

Do you need more money from the state?

Due to the renewed consequences of the pandemic, we asked the Economic Stabilization Fund for a supplementary interest-bearing loan.

This option has always been included in our contract with the WSF in the event of further pandemic waves.

The WSF was created for cases like this, that is, for the consequences of a pandemic for which the company is not responsible.

What is the sum?

It stands and falls with the question of how much revenue we are losing due to the new, tough restrictions.

We are assuming a 40 percent drop in sales in December and this month usually counts for two months in terms of sales because of the crucial Christmas business.

The question also arises as to how long these measures will continue.

Does it last until Easter and beyond?

The current pandemic scenarios range up to an amount of 220 million euros.

Hopefully we don't need that amount.

Are you sure that the application will be approved?

The application was made over the weekend.

We expect a benevolent decision this calendar year.

We are in contact weekly and exchange information about numbers.

In Berlin, it was not surprising that as an inner-city retailer, the consequences of the pandemic are once again particularly affecting us.

When will you pay the money back?

The 460 million euros have a term until 2026. Incidentally, the interest rates are not low, so that the state gets back more than the loan amount.

How high are they?

Over the entire term up to 6.5 percent.

We also have to do everything we can for our employees to be covered, hence this application framework.

When business is up again we will see how we can quickly reduce the financial burden.

There are other funding options besides the WSF that we can use when the pandemic is behind us.

One of the “access criteria” of the WSF is: “No other funding options may be available”.

So has your owner René Benko vanished into thin air?

On the contrary.

Without the Signa, Galeria would no longer exist today.

The shareholder has repeatedly supported us with high millions and is now making a significant contribution.

Do you think it is fair that the taxpayer bears the risk of the department store business model?

The WSF was created precisely to cope with such involuntary consequences of a pandemic. The renewed legal restrictions hit us particularly hard again in the Christmas business, even though retail is not a pandemic driver. On the contrary, shopping in the department store is as safe as possible because of the large areas, the many entrances and exits and the tried and tested hygiene concepts. We are a large employer with around 17,000 jobs subject to social security contributions - 20,000 with subsidiaries. And we are systemically relevant for German city centers. When department stores close, it has a full impact on inner cities - especially medium-sized and small ones. We want to help ensure that the city center is revitalized. That is the core of our strategy. That we canwe showed above all with our new prototypes.

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