A new joint venture has been signed between Signa and Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) to run the Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof department stores in Germany and other retail operations in Belgium and the Netherlands, according to an official announcement made on Nov. 30 that the long-awaited transaction has been completed. This came after German anti-trust authorities approved the combination.

The joint venture will also comprise the Karstadt Sports chain of sporting goods stores. It previously belonged to the Signa Sports Group, which also includes e-commerce sites and hybrid specialty sports retailers such as Fahrrad.de Internetstores and Tennis-Point. Based on the announcements, these operations will go under the umbrella of a new company called Signa Sports United.

Stephan Fanderl, who turned around Karstadt, has been confirmed as the chief executive of the new combined group, which will have an annual turnover of around €5 billion through 243 downtown stores and a strong e-commerce platform. It will employ about 32,000 people. It will also manage the Saks Off 5th stores of HBC in Germany, the Galeria Inno stores in Belgium, Hudson's Bay in the Netherlands and a variety of food and gourmet food shops.

Signa has a 50.1 percent stake in the new joint venture, with HBC holding the remaining 49.99 percent. Furthermore, Signa will own 50 percent of HBC Europe's real estate assets with an option to take over more of them in the future. Founded in 1999 by René Benko, a dynamic Austrian entrepreneur, Signa has estimated real estate assets of €15 billion. Its total retail operations generate annual sales of more than €7 billion, of which about €750 million come from the online business.

According to Textilwirtschaft, a key player in the management under Fanderl will be Claudia Reinery, Karstadt's former general manager for purchasing, sales and marketing, who will be in charge of marketing and category management for the whole group, as well as its omni-channel orientation. Jörg Peter Schmidden, the former purchasing director of Karstadt, will handle strategic purchasing for the group.

Thomas Wanke, who ran the Karstadt Sports chain, will coordinate all the department stores of the group. He will be replaced in his former position by Jens Dunkel Klaus Lipka, the former chief buyer of Karstadt Sports.