Macintosh Retail Group and some of its subsidiaries have filed for “suspension of payments” to banks, suppliers and other creditors, and they have been granted . It could be the prelude to a change of ownership for the largest shoe retailer in the Benelux countries.

The insolvency proceedings cover the parent company and five subsidiaries: Dolcis, Invito, the Hoogenbosch Retail Group, Manfield and Pro Sport. They don't cover the Scapino chain in the Netherlands, the Brantano chain in Belgium or MRF STM, the company that licenses the Steve Madden brand. Court authorities have appointed the same administrators, J.J.M.C. Huppertz and B.W.G.P. Meijs, for all the companies.

The group said on Dec. 23 that it is now exploring all possible scenarios, including a sale of the whole group or parts of it, adding that it will make further announcements if and when appropriate. On Dec. 21, the company said it was in the final phase of exploration of strategic options that it has been considering since the beginning of the year, as announced at the time. It pointed out that it was allowing interested parties to conduct due diligence into its business, warning shareholders that they were likely to get a very limited return on the equity.

The next day, however, Macintosh said it had concluded that none of the potential options would result in a viable comprehensive solution for the group's situation. Therefore, the management board and the supervisory group decided to file for suspension of payments, first for the parent company and then for five of its subsidiaries.

The new developments follow a difficult trading period in November and early December, which will force the group to report results for the fourth quarter of 2015 that will be close to the clearly insufficient level reached in the same period of 2014. Macintosh said that a high debt leverage and a continuously challenging shoe retail environment would hinder an effective implementation of its turnaround programs in the short term.

As previously reported, Macintosh continued to report negative operating results before amortization through the end of September for its remaining shoe retailing operations in the Benelux countries, but its underlying profits before amortization (Ebit) for the first nine months of 2015 showed an improvement of €2.9 million from the corresponding 2018 period. The month of October started out well, but the market situation deteriorated afterwards.

While looking for new strategic options, the new management of the group decided at the beginning of 2015 to focus on its fashion-related retail operations in Benelux. Macintosh thus completed the sale of its shoe retail chains in the U.K., Brantano U.K. and Jones Bootmaker, as well as two other businesses, Nea and Kwantum. The disposals resulted in net proceeds of €64 million that should have allowed it to redeem all its debts;, but they will also result in lower turnover and operating profits for the group.