Biggest Dutch department store chain declares bankruptcy

The Hague (AFP) –


The biggest Dutch chain of department stores, American-owned Vroom and Dreesman, on Thursday declared itself bankrupt after years of losses, but said it expected a buyer to come to its rescue.

Founded in 1887 in Amsterdam, the chain employs 10,000 people in 64 outlets.

"As far as we're concerned, this does not mean the end of V and D, or of La Place", an affiliated restaurant chain, it said.

Dozens of potential buyers had made themselves known over the past weeks, it said.

V and D failed to reverse a loss-making trend despite reducing the payroll and cutting wages in recent years.

It reported losses of 49 million euros ($53 million) in 2014, 42 million euros in 2013 and 19 million euros in 2012.

A warm winter added to the chain's problems at the end of this year, causing its winter collection to flop.

V and D's owners, US private equity firm Sun Capital, stopped injecting funds into the chain, which was then granted protection from creditors last week.

Stores and restaurants will continue to operate "for as long as possible" to improve the chances of attracting a buyer, the company said.