Delhaize sees backlash after news on store sell-off

A meeting at supermarket chain Delhaize on Monday, during which management announced the transfer of 15 stores to independent ownership, went poorly. According to management, a fire alarm was deliberately set off, causing the building to be evacuated.

Fifteen of the 128 supermarkets in the chain owned by Delhaize will be taken over by independent operators, with their reopening as independent supermarkets planned for October and November. Delhaize made the announcement on Monday morning. According to the company, buyers will be found for all 128 company-owned supermarkets. A further 636 independent affiliated shops already operate under the AD Delhaize, Proxy Delhaize and Shop & Go brands

The announcement is not what the unions had hoped for, says BBTK secretary Katrien Degryse. They had hoped that the management would adjust the plans after opposition from unions and criticism of the takeover terms. "But the management continues on the same momentum," Degryse said.

"We want a calm debate"

According to Delhaize spokesperson Roel Dekelver, there was verbal violence and a door was damaged. "We regret that. We want a calm debate," he said.

During the transition from self-managed supermarkets to stores run by independent entrepreneurs, all employees will keep their jobs and their current wages and working conditions, Delhaize said. The chain will also grant employees a "transition bonus" of 1,500 euros, plus 100 euros per year of seniority.

Five of the buyers already operate other Delhaize-affiliated stores. Five others are Delhaize employees; the remaining five are first-time entrepreneurs.

Eight of the first 15 stores to be sold off are in Flanders, with the remaining seven in Brussels and Wallonia. Strikes broke out at two stores in Brussels and Nivelles on Monday, forcing them to close.



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