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Esprit goes bust in Belgium with loss of 148 jobs

09:33 10/04/2024

Clothing chain Esprit has filed for bankruptcy in Belgium as part of a "vast restructuring", its parent company has announced.

“The global economic slowdown, combined with a sharp rise in energy and logistics costs, a sluggish consumer climate in Europe and high rents for oversized shops, have finally made it impossible to continue operations in their current structure in Belgium,” the group said.

Unions say the closure of the 15 Belgian stores will result in the loss of 148 jobs. The shops closed for good at 17.00 on Monday, but independently operated outlets trading under a franchise agreement will be able to continue operating.

“The bankruptcy of Esprit Belgie Retail and the closure of its shops were inevitable,” said SETCa union permanent secretary Christophe Bouvier.

“But when this happens, it's always a shock. We were expecting it, but we were still hoping for the opposite.”

Bouvier said no actions are planned at present, as no negotiations are possible.

“The management justifies this decision by the global economic context, with the success of online shops such as Zalando, Shein and Temu, as well as the rising cost of energy,” said Bouvier.

“When you see that in some shopping centres, rents are around €200,000 a month, we shouldn't be surprised.”

Esprit said it intended to concentrate on "a major reorganisation, strengthening its partnerships with wholesalers and franchisees, and giving new impetus to its online business".

This restructuring comes after the brand already announced its bankruptcy in Switzerland last month.

Photo: James Arthur Gekeire/Belga

Written by Helen Lyons