The Slovenia Times

Study shows turning retailer Tuš into cooperative feasible


The study could serve as a basis for a potential decision on this type of restructuring, Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the press on Friday.

The results come after weeks of rumours that the government wants to turn Tuš into a cooperative co-owned by a mix of shoppers, suppliers and strategic partners.

Media reports suggested the overarching aim would be to keep Tuš in Slovenian hands as a key sales channel for Slovenian producers.

Tuš has outstanding financial liabilities totalling EUR 400m and it recently concluded a loan restructuring agreement with banks that could become effective this month.

The study looked into restructuring based on a bank loan restructuring agreement, bankruptcy or sale, and transformation into a cooperative.

Three types of cooperatives were analysed: one owned by consumers, one by consumers and suppliers, and one featuring consumers, suppliers and strategic partners.

"At least as far as the economic fundamentals go [a cooperative] is a strong enough prospect," said economist Bogomir Kovač, one of the authors of the study.

"Within these frameworks it is possible to continue the analysis processes and look for development opportunities that restructuring offers," he said.

Minister Počivalšek was confident that banks would sign up for a transformation into a cooperative.

"We believe transformation is useful from the point of view of suppliers and in terms of sales," he said.

The minister was quick to point out that this was just a preliminary study and the next step would be to undertake an in-depth economic study.

"If it is economically feasible, I'm convinced banks will choose it. Either they pick the bird in the hand or we convince them with our plan that they will get much more over the long term," he said.

Kovač added that Tuš was the only major retailer still undergoing operating and financial restructuring.

Tadej Slapnik, a state secretary at the prime minister's office in charge of social entrepreneurship, said the analysis assumed 150,000-200,000 consumers would join the cooperative, about a third of the holders of Tuš's loyalty card.

He believes the process could be completed in 10 years.

The study was conducted by Kovač and agrarian economist Aleš Kuhar.


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