Zielpunkt supermarket chain files for insolvency

The Austrian supermarket chain Zielpunkt is formally beginning insolvency proceedings with the Vienna court of commerce. Nearly 3,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs before Christmas.

Zielpunkt supermarket chain files for insolvency
File photo: APA

Zielpunkt's owner, Upper Austrian businessman Georg Pfeiffer, has been accused of deliberately letting the business fail after gaining control of dozens of Zielpunkt properties and of timing the insolvency filing for the end of November so that he could avoid paying Christmas bonuses to the chain's employees (saving him around €18 million). 

Zielpunkt has debts of more than €200 million. It has 229 stores throughout Austria, the majority in Vienna and Lower Austria.

Pfeiffer has been defending himself from allegations that he is an asset stripper and stands to profit from letting the chain go bust. In an interview with the Österreich newspaper he said that he would be prepared to use money from private funds to help soften the blow for workers who are left without a job just before Christmas, but that he was prevented from doing that by Austrian law.  

He added that he has been speaking to the head of the Arbeitsmarkt Service Johannes Kopf, and would work closely with him to help employees find another job. 

Unions are holding meetings today to inform employees about the current situation.

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Germany’s BMW to put €1 billion into electric vehicles in Austria

German auto manufacturer BMW said on Monday it would invest "around one billion euros" in the production of electric vehicles at a plant in Austria from 2025.

Germany's BMW to put €1 billion into electric vehicles in Austria

Altogether, 600,000 units a year should roll off the line at the factory in Steyr under the investment plan, set to run until 2030, BMW said in a statement.

From 2025, BMW will “develop and produce the next generation of e-drives” at the Austrian site, BMW’s production chief Milan Nedeljkovic said.

The refurbishment of the plant will see two new production lines added and the location expanded by 60,000 square metres.

The new facilities would require €710 million in investment, while €230 million would be dedicated to boosting vehicle development at Steyr.

“Around half” the 4,400 employees at the site would be working on “e-mobility” by 2030, plant boss Alexander Susanek said.

The Bavarian manufacturer said it aimed to have two million electric vehicles on the road by 2025, promising 13 new electric models and a revamp of its Mini brand.

BMW has already said it will spend €400 million to upgrade its home factory in Munich to produce electric vehicles.