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Pimkie back in Belgium just months after bankruptcy

13:24 01/09/2021

Trade unions have expressed concern after it emerged that fast-fashion label Pimkie has reopened a store in Belgium, just a few months after being declared bankrupt and laying off staff.

Earlier this year, Pimkie closed its 24 stores in Belgium. The Belsay company, which held an exclusive distribution partnership for the Pimkie brand in Belgium with the French owner company Diramode (Mulliez group), was declared bankrupt on 30 March. As a result, the 136 members of staff across Pimkie's locations in Belgium were let go without being paid their wages for that month.

Just a few months later, the company opened a new store in De Panne, which has blindsided trade unions. The CNE and CGSLB unions released a joint press release questioning the validity of Belsay's actions. Unions claim that the Covid-19 crisis has been used to justify bankruptcy so as not to have to pay the workers' last wages and their severance pay. 

The unions told RTL that "everything that is legally possible is not ethically acceptable" and that "bankruptcy could well be a disguised restructuring with the aim of relieving responsibility for debts and social obligations, only to relaunch retail activity on the cheap. It is unacceptably dishonest".

The legal and ethical lines are blurred, as this is not a takeover of the old management company but the creation of a new company by the French group. The unions are calling on the political world to clarify the situation.

Frédéric Viseur, permanent secretary of the CNE, described the bankruptcy as "rapid" and "brutal", making the arrival of a new Pimkie shop all the more shocking to unions and former employees.

Photo: ©Bruno Fahy/BELGA

Written by Rebecca Rommen