ONOFF staff left reeling after bankruptcy: union

Swedish home electronics chain ONOFF's bankruptcy came as a surprise to employees who were ‘shocked’ to hear the news of the chain’s demise on Monday.

“The employees are shocked and aghast. It is a great loss,” said union representative Charlotte Hall, to news agency TT.

Hall, who was on vacation when she received word of the bankruptcy, said she felt devastated by the news.

“My first thought was ‘my god, what will happen to all the employees? What happens now?’, ” she said.

The competition, German owned electronics chain Media Markt, say that they are planning to expand further in Sweden.

“We are opening four new stores in Sweden this year and we will continue like this for another few years,” Johan Rosenblom, Swedish Media Markt’s marketing director told TT.

Although he thinks it is sad that the ONOFF staff will be laid off, Rosenblom does not feel guilty that the chain is forced to close down,

“Guilty of good competition? I don’t know about that. We think we do a good job on the market”, he said.

Tommy Tillgren, vice chairman of the Swedish trade union Handels thinks that ONOFF’s bankruptcy is “very tragic” for the firm’s employees. But he is hoping that some of the stores will be bought up and taken over by the chain’s competitors.

“There are always actors that are interested in some parts of the business at least. But whatever happens, quite a few will probably lose their jobs,” he said.

According to Tillgren, the last few years have been marked by stiff competition and a flooded market. Many have feared that there is a chain too many, according to Tillgren.

“Whether it is healthy is a bit difficult to say, I think. That’s the way the market works – if your resources run out – you are out of the game,” he said.

And according to Charlotte Hall, neither the union nor the staff had had any indications that ONOFF was heading for bankruptcy.

“Strings have been tightened and some changes have been made in the company structure recently but nothing that would have made us believe we were heading this way, “ said Hall to TT.

ONOFF reported a loss of 152 million kronor ($23 million) last year, according to business and trade newspaper Dagens Industri. The year before the company reported losses of 44 million kronor.

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Norwegian’s subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden go bankrupt

The struggling low-cost airline Norwegian has reported its staffing subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden have filed for bankruptcy, meaning roughly three quarters of its pilots and crew will lose their jobs.

Norwegian's subsidiaries in Denmark and Sweden go bankrupt
A Norwegian Air Shuttle plane: Photo: Norwegian

In a press release issued on Monday afternoon, the airline said that the financial support packages offered by the Swedish and Danish government had not been sufficiently generous to keep the subsidiaries which employ pilots and cabin crew in the two countries solvent. 

”The impact the Coronavirus has had on the airline industry is unprecedented. We have done everything we can to avoid making this last-resort decision and we have asked for access to government support in both Sweden and Denmark”, said Norwegian's chief executive Jacob Schram in the statement.  

“Our pilots and cabin crew are the core of our business and they have done a fantastic job for many years.”

“It is heart-breaking that our Swedish and Danish pilot and cabin crew subsidiaries now are forced to file for bankruptcy, and I’m truly sorry for the consequences this will have for our colleagues,”  Norwegian's chief executive Jacob Schram said in the statement.  

“We are working around the clock to get through this crisis and to return as a stronger Norwegian with the goal of bringing as many colleagues back in the air as possible.”

The company said it was also immediately ending staffing deals with the OSM Aviation, which supplies it with crew based in Spain, UK, Finland, Sweden and the US.

The company said that 1,571 pilots and 3,134 cabin crew would be affected by the move, with only the 700 pilots and 1,300 cabin crew based in Norway, France and Italy being kept on.

In the release, the company blamed the “the lack of significant financial support” from the Swedish and Danish governments, which it contrasted with that of Norway, which has agreed to pay “all salary related costs” while staff are furloughed. 

The companies declared bankrupt include: 
Norwegian Pilot Services Sweden AB
Norwegian Pilot Services Denmark ApS
Norwegian Cabin Services Denmark ApS
Norwegian Air Resources Denmark LH ApS