Clubmarket Closure Would Cost Economy NIS 2B, Says Report

The direct cost to the economy of the liquidation of the Clubmarket retail chain - should the Supersol offer not go through - is NIS 2 billion, according to calculations by the chain's trustees, prepared for the court hearing on Clubmarket's fate and obtained by Haaretz.

The figures are based on the lost opportunity of Supersol's offer - NIS 825 million, plus the full cost of Clubmarket's inventory - as well as NIS 300-380 million lost in income taxes, NIS 100-180 million in VAT that Clubmarket's suppliers would have to pay if they received their monies due, and NIS 160 million that the National Insurance Institute would have to pay out for all staffers whose jobs would be lost if the chain closed.

The figures do not go into the indirect cost should Clubmarket close up shop altogether. The chain has some 1,400 suppliers, many of them small family firms, each owed less than NIS 1 million (thereby constituting Clubmarket's largest group of creditors). Each of these companies employs up to 10 workers, such that 14,000 jobs are connected to Clubmarket's fate. According to the study conducted by the chain's trustees, at least half of these jobs could be lost if the company goes under.

Haim Bior adds: If approval is forthcoming for Supersol to buy out Clubmarket, then some 400-500 staffers will still lose their jobs, according to Albert Ashur, chairman of the Clubmarket workers committee.

Ashur estimates that most of these will come from the office or administrative departments, and not those working out in the stores. He noted that following talks with Clubmarket's trustees, Gabi Trabelsi and Shlomo Nass, any staffers dismissed as a result of the buyout will be recompensed beyond the legal minimum.

Despite the threatened job losses, Ashur supports the takeover, which won court approval Thursday, but still awaits the nod from the Antitrust Authority. "We prefer that the chain buying Clubmarket is Supersol," Ashur said this weekend, "because this will ensure stability of employment for most of Clubmarket workers."