Back to the origins. This is the motto that the banks transmit to El Corte Inglés for this new stage in the distribution giant, which has managed to cut its debt to the lowest level since before the Great Recession. Financial entities, therefore, support the commercial restructuring plan in which the company is immersed, with store closures and real estate sales, according to bank sources.
El Corte Inglés received an important boost from banks in March. Then he managed to refinance the debt, extending the loans up to 2.6 billion to amortize the bond issue he carried out in the midst of the pandemic. It also managed to postpone the maturities until 2027 and considerably reduced the cost of the liability, bringing it down to the levels of an investment-grade company.
But the big move was made by the company last week. After receiving the injection of 1,010 million euros for the agreement with Mutua. The company used this cash to repay debt, which remains at 2,500 million, with the elimination of the other bond, placed in 2018, and the ICO loan.
Santander, BBVA, BNP Paribas, JP Morgan or Bank of America are the entities that take the lead in El Corte Inglés. And his opinion is that the group of stores now, in this new stage with the ballast of much lighter debt, focus on its business model, returning to the department store, as well as boost its online business. To this end, it urges the closure of the least productive warehouses and the sale of real estate. As the company has already begun to do.
Brick has been considered the jewel in the crown of El Corte Inglés. And it is not the first time that the company’s banks have set their eyes on the group’s real estate assets. In 2019 they urged the company to create a real estate subsidiary, as it did. And they have even come to propose exchanging 15% of Primafin with real estate. In 2019 he also sounded out the sale of a real estate portfolio, the so-called Green project, but without success. Now it is surveying the market with some of its main buildings, such as the Titania tower, the Sol centers or the Puerta del Ángel (Barcelona).
Yesterday the group’s decision to sell a store in Seville and another in Cordoba was made public, an operation with which it is said that it could raise up to 50 million euros. The local in Córdoba has been closed for years and in Seville the plan is to get rid of a local specialized in sports.
Yesterday it was also learned that he will not renew the lease of the building at number 52 on Calle Serrano in Madrid where he has his Serrano 52 MAN store, which will move to number 47 on the same street (Serrano 47 Woman).
The announcement is added to that of the closures at the end of next month for its stores in Vaguada and Parquesur (Leganés), as well as the one it owns on Calle Colón in Valencia.
The premises it maintains at number 20 of Gran Vía in Bilbao will also close at the end of July, where the rent will not be renewed. The approximately 70 employees of that premises will relocate to the firm’s main building in the Basque city, located at numbers 7 and 9 of the same Gran Vía.
According to union sources consulted by Europa Press, the company has informed them that in the relocations it will take into account the preferences of the employees, the proximity of the centers to their homes and their professional skills.