Bankruptcy of Van Hool leads to massive job cuts

Bus manufacturer Van Hool has been officially declared bankrupt. There is a joint binding offer of two companies who want to take over parts of the company’s activities. In the short term, only 650 to 950 employees would be able to stay at the company, which currently employs about 2,500 people.

The Business Court of Mechelen has officially declared the bankruptcy of the company, based in Lier. A board of curators has been appointed to oversee the bankruptcy process. The curators have received a joint binding offer from the VDL Groep, which produces coaches and buses, and GRW, a partner company of Schmitz-Cargobull which makes trailers. "This binding bid forms the basis for final agreements that can be concluded in the very short term," said spokesperson Dirk Snauwaert.

VDL Groep would take over Van Hool's bus and coach activities, while GRW would become responsible for the industrial vehicles. "The final agreements could lead to a relaunch of the operations in the very short term and there is employment of 650 to 950 employees foreseen, with possibilities for growth in the longer term." There are currently about 2,500 people working at Van Hool, meaning that 1,550 to 1,850 jobs would be cut.

More clarity should be provided by the acquiring parties in the coming weeks. Van Hool underlined that this is "an intensive process", partly "due to the failure to resolve the family inheritance situation".

'A dark and sad day'

Van Hool's bankruptcy brings an end to the activities of a leading company in the manufacturing industry. External factors such as the impact of the Covid crisis, global supply problems, strong inflation and high energy costs are the main reasons for its demise, the company has said.

The joint union front called it “it is a dark and sad day for thousands of families, for the entire region and for the Flemish manufacturing industry”. According to the unions, Van Hool is a “lost crown jewel disappearing into foreign hands”. They say “a crushing responsibility lies with politicians and banks but there was, above all, a lack of responsibility within the Van Hool family."


#FlandersNewsService | Workers outside the Van Hool bus assembly plant © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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