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Douglas confirms possible family takeover

By Attracta Mooney

German retailer Douglas Group has confirmed that the Kreke family, with the backing of financial investors, wants to take the business private.

In a statement published on 12 January, the Hagen-based family business said voluntary takeover plans are currently being discussed.

“Talks are being held between the company, members of the management board and the supervisory board of the company holding a significant stake in the company and several financial investors with respect to the potential acquisition of a substantial participation in the company,” the family-controlled firm said.

The comments follow recent reports in the press that said the Kreke family was in talks with leveraged-buyout firms.

However, Douglas said any discussions were still at an early stage, adding it was unclear what type of transaction might take place and when it might happen.

“So far, the financial investors have neither submitted binding offers nor have agreements on structure or financing of a potential transaction been reached,” it added.

Family member Henning Kreke is currently president and chief executive, while his father, Jörn Kreke, is chairman of the board.

Jörn is credited with transforming the family business, which traces its roots back to a 19th century perfume and soap factory, into an international company with more than 2,000 outlets selling books, perfume, jewellery and confectionery.

A report in Financial Times Deutschland today (13 January) said the family would look to break up the retailer into separate divisions if it succeeded in taking the company private.

Douglas, which has a market value of about €1.2 billion, would focus on the perfume operations, while other parts such as bookstore chain Thalia and jewellery chain Christ would be sold, it said.

The Kreke family, including the Ekloeh branch, reportedly controls about 30% of the business, while Oetker, the family-owned food conglomerate, currently has a 26% stake in the company. 

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