Creditors of the Podium Market network will discuss the issue of collecting debts of the retailer through the bankruptcy of Stockmann, which received the assets of a recognized insolvent competitor, RBC found in the database of the Unified Federal Register of Legally Relevant Information. On Wednesday, June 7, the bankruptcy trustee of Podium Market (Atlas Investment and Production Company LLC) Vladimir Sakharov published a notice on holding a committee of creditors, which will discuss the issue of forced collection of debt from Stockmann JSC by filing an application for recognition of the company bankrupt. The committee, which will decide on the relevant intention, will be held on June 23.
“The publication was caused by the refusal of Stockmann JSC from the proposal to resolve the dispute by amicable agreement,” explained Yevgeny Kryukov, a representative of the creditor LLC Landor, to RBC.
Why they want to bankrupt Stockmann
Claims against Stockmann arose as a result of the bankruptcy of the clothing retailer Podium Market. We are talking about a network of luxury clothing retail stores that has been developing in Moscow since 1994, first under the Podium brand. By 2012, Podium had debts on payments to counterparties, and already in May of that year, its parent company (Podium OJSC) was declared bankrupt.
After the collapse of the business, the founder of the company, Eduard Kitsenko, and his wife, Polina, restarted the retail chain under the new Podium Market brand – the owners planned to develop it not only in Moscow, but also outside the capital. In 2017, the chain had eight department stores: five in Moscow and one each in Kazan, Surgut and Krasnodar. But contractors continued to complain about delays in paying for supplies and rent, and the number of claims grew. As RBC sources clarified, the network has been delaying payments for goods sold since the spring of 2016 – mostly little-known designers and small companies. In 2017, 64 lawsuits were filed against Podium Market from counterparties for a total amount of more than 1 billion rubles, Vedomosti estimated based on the materials of the Arbitration Court database. The largest creditors of the chain were Trading Gallery LLC (Modny Season shopping center), which filed a claim for 93.4 million rubles, and Landor LLC with a claim for 873.5 million rubles (it bought the building of the old Detsky Mir for restoration ” in the center of Kazan, where he rented the premises of Podium Market). Landor is the largest creditor of Podium Market, the debt to the company, according to Kryukov, is more than 1 billion rubles, among other major creditors is Absolut Bank.
Against the backdrop of difficulties at Podium Market, the owner of Stockmann, businessman Yakov Panchenko, began to show interest in the network. In May 2017, it became known that Stockmann plans to buy some Podium Market stores and transfer them under its brand – some immediately, and the rest gradually. But in June 2018, Podium Market was declared bankrupt at the initiative of the company’s suppliers, bankruptcy proceedings were opened against it.
The bankruptcy trustee of Atlas challenged the sale of Podium Market assets. As follows from the materials of the case, the application of the bankruptcy trustee is motivated by the fact that the bankruptcy of Podium Market occurred as a result of the actions or inaction of the persons controlling the debtor, who are subject to subsidiary liability for the obligations of Atlas. In particular, it was about the sale and purchase agreements concluded in 2017 between Atlas and Stockmann, as a result of which the company received trade balances, trade equipment, lease rights and exclusive rights to Podium Market stores. After the conclusion of these agreements, the debtor lost ownership of the stores he had, transferred to Stockmann the management of the site and social networks, as well as the rights to the trademark, follows from the case materials. Under the agreement, Atlas was supposed to receive 160 million rubles for the sale of the business, but the buyer was given an unreasonable discount – the total amount of the disputed transactions amounted to 135.3 million rubles. At the same time, the assessment of the debtor’s property, according to the conclusion of the forensic examination, was underestimated 12 times: the market value of the business was estimated by Roseco at 1.69 billion rubles, according to the materials of the court.
At first, the Moscow Arbitration Court and the Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the transaction, but in June 2022 these decisions were overturned by a decision of the Moscow District Arbitration Court, and the separate dispute was sent for a new trial.
In November 2022, the Moscow Arbitration Court satisfied the claims of creditors to challenge the transaction and recognized the sale to Stockmann of Podium Market trademarks and retail stores in the Moscow European and Fashion Season shopping centers, as well as in the Krasnodar OZ Mall and the Pushkinsky business center » in Kazan invalid. The court ruled to recover 1.69 billion rubles from Stockmann.
What Podium Market lenders say
Creditors support the decision of the bankruptcy trustee to file a bankruptcy petition for Stockmann to recover the debt, says lawyer Yevgeny Kryukov, representing the interests of Landor. According to him, the return to the bankruptcy estate of 1.6 billion rubles. for the acquired assets will allow the debtor to pay off Atlas’ creditors. “Until now, the decisions of the first instance on the recovery of 1.6 billion rubles from JSC Stockmann in favor of the IPK Atlas. has not been executed, therefore the arbitration manager has the right to use any legal recovery mechanisms for the purposes of protecting creditors, ”explains Kryukov. The publication of notices of intent to file for bankruptcy of the debtor, according to Kryukov, has preventive measures. “Many business owners, realizing the imminent inevitability of bankruptcy, will attempt to withdraw liquid assets of the company, make vicious transactions. The publication of the intention, as well as the subsequent filing of an application for declaring the debtor bankrupt, should stop such actions of unscrupulous debtors, ”adds the representative of Landor.
RBC sent a request to Absolut Bank and the Fashion Season shopping center.
What does Stockmann say?
“The publication of the bankruptcy trustee of the IPK Atlas against the backdrop of an ongoing litigation involving our company is an attempt to exert unfair pressure on Stockmann,” the retailer’s press service told RBC. According to a representative of Stockmann, the threat to make such a publication was voiced at a meeting with the participation of lawyers from one of the creditors of the IPK Atlas, LLC Landor.
The company stressed that they act “strictly within the law” and protect their rights: the decision to recover 1.685 billion rubles. did not enter into force in the process of appeal to the Ninth Arbitration Court of Appeal. Stockmann believes that a lawful decision will be made by the Court of Appeal, in turn, the decision of the Moscow Arbitration Court previously adopted in the case will be canceled,” the company added.
What is Stockmann known for?
The Finnish clothing retailer Stockmann opened the first store in Russia in 1989 in Moscow’s GUM: then it was a joint Soviet-Finnish venture Kalinka-Stockmann. It was the first store of a foreign retailer in the USSR. In 1998, a standard Stockmann store was opened in the Smolensky Passage shopping center, which worked there until 2009. In 2015, Stockmann announced the sale of its Russian department stores, becoming the first retailer to leave Russia amid the economic crisis. Yakov Panchenko’s Reviva Holdings, the franchisee of the Debenhams department store chain, became the new owner.
Now in Russia there are 16 Stockmann stores in five major cities: in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Yekaterinburg and Sochi, indicated on the company’s official website. The revenue of Stockmann JSC in 2022, according to the company’s financial statements, amounted to almost 9.6 billion rubles. (growth by 13.7% compared to 2021, when revenue was 8.43 billion rubles). The net profit of the legal entity in 2022 increased more than five times – from 90.9 million to 533.3 million rubles.
In early 2022, Panchenko planned to sell the Russian Stockmann department stores to Sberbank. It was assumed that in the future the company would be integrated with the SberMegaMarket marketplace to develop the fashion segment. But already in May 2022, the deal was canceled; despite this, Stockmann products will be presented on the marketplace.
In October 2022, the owner of Stockmann agreed to buy the Lamoda online store from the Singapore company Global Fashion Group (GFG). After the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, the Singaporean company reduced imports and marketing activities in Russia, and also suspended the construction of a second Lamoda warehouse in Russia. In 2021, according to estimates by the analytical company Data Insight, Lamoda accounted for 10% of all online clothing and footwear sales in Russia. In December 2022, GFG closed the deal to sell Panchenko’s Lamoda. The deal amounted to €95 million plus funds that were in business at the end of September this year.