The hard discount retail chain Justo & Bueno, owned by the Mercadería company, is about to go into final liquidation. This despite the different proposals for financial and operational rescue that have been announced in the media, since according to the Superintendency of Companies, “times have expired” and deadlines that were opened in the public hearing on May 12.
In that instance, the Supersociedades ordered the judicial liquidation of the low-cost chain, but at the same time, opened a 30-day period for new offers to be submitted to save the company. At that time, the founder of the company, Michel Olmi, spoke about the judge’s decision as “a light of hope for Justo & Bueno to continue contributing to so many families and to the country.”
And since then, at least two rescue proposals have been aired, as La República has recorded. One from suppliers, and another from the company Lobbing & Consulting. This after the proposal of a Chinese fund, Joining Futures Capital International Limited, which was announced as the new owner and which ultimately did not prosper, was left in suspense.
However, according to the call of the Superintendence, the new proposals have not materialized either.
“All times have expired and it is time to decide the future of Justo & Bueno,” Superintendent Billy Escobar said in an interview with the newspaper El Tiempo.
“No more delays are allowed, nor are there more deadlines,” said the official. He clarified that this is the last week to carry out the process, and called for the proposals that arrive to be “very concrete, specific and reasonable (…) Hopefully those options are given because it would be to inject resources, fulfill pending obligations and continue the operation of the company”.
Last Friday, one of the investors who has announced interest in rescuing the company reported in a statement that three funds represented by Deloitte were “waiting” to present their proposal to the Superintendency of Companies.
Alfonso Giraldo Castro, director of Lobbing & Consulting, is the investor who pointed out that this proposal seeks to cover administration expenses from January 18 to date, for a value of $300,000 million.
“Giving continuity to the work that has been carried out in an attempt to rescue Mercaderías SAS Justo & Bueno, it is a pleasure to announce that, on behalf of the creditors we represent and with the permanent accompaniment and advice of the Deloitte firm, we ratify the intention to submit a capitalization offer and contribution of new capital for the rescue of the company Mercadería SAS, fully accepting the provisions of Decree 560 of 2020,” Giraldo said in a statement.
Previously, the same Lobbing & Consulting firm asked warehouse owners, merchandise suppliers, landlords, value-added service providers and employees, “open and sell” as the best option to advance the recovery.
This with a view to safeguarding the more than 6,000 direct and 19,000 indirect jobs that the low-cost retail chain has, which had become the third player in the sector with 18.2% of the market in Colombia.
“Likewise, everything that is owed from January 18, 2022 to the date on which a final decision is made, including rental fees and public services, among others, would be paid,” Giraldo promised in his last statement.
However, as El Tiempo records, landlords and unions have expressed their disbelief in the face of the new proposal.
“We received that communication and another one in the past few days, but in both cases the specific proposal is not known and it is still one more expectation. It may end up being a rescue of funds, but it continues to be a company without supporting assets and in 6 months we will be in the same ones”, affirmed Óscar Bravo, one of the affected landlords.
“The liquidator does not answer (our) calls or emails and only an extension of time is evident, as you can see by postponing the hearing three times. The workers had the hardest part, because only some were paid EPS, as well as pending work disabilities, there is talk of a very small number of workers per day,” said César Higuita, representative of one of the workers’ unions of Fair & Good.
In the process before the Supersociedades it transpired that today the total debts add up to more than $1.7 billion. More than 5,300 workers and suppliers are in suspense, waiting for their debts to be resolved. Justo & Bueno announced in May of last year that its debts exceeded $77,000 million, and that it was undergoing reorganization. In the process it has also emerged that he has no assets with which to cover the debts.
Previously, in the case of the JF Capital fund, it was reported that this option – already discarded and never arrived – It would inject around $2.4 billion to cover debts and launch an expansion plan to countries like Mexico, Ecuador and Argentina.