Bankruptcy Declared for Clothing Maker Aha Mura

The decision, as part of which around 1,200 jobs will be lost, came after the Murska Sobota District Court gave owner Mojca Lukančič an extension to pay the EUR 6.3m tax debt last week.

Lukančič had been in talks with a potential foreign investor for her Aha Group, but that failed to bring about a life-saving deal.

Creditors have been given until 25 August to register their claims to Aha Mura, according to a posting on the AJPES public company register portal.

The bankruptcy of Aha Mura is part of broader insolvency proceedings facing Aha Group, a furniture-through-clothing conglomerate, which reports say owes more than EUR 60m to creditors.

While the group of 12 companies employs around 2,000 workers, Aha Mura accounts for around 1,200 jobs.

This is still a far cry from Mura's heyday late last century and only around a quarter of the number of workers who lost their jobs when the original clothing giant went bust in 2009.

Lukančič set on a path of reviving the company in 2011 by purchasing one of the healthy remnants of the bankrupt company, Mura in partnerji, for EUR 10m and renaming it Aha Mura.

As part of the revival, the company was given EUR 5.8m in state subsidies to bolster operations and keep alive over 1,500 jobs in the Pomurje region, which ranks as the poorest in Slovenia.

Economy Minister Metod Dragonja said Aha had received generous state aid but that is no longer an option now. "I think we did all we could," he told reporters at a press conference in Ljubljana.

Mura employees expressed outrage. "It was only yesterday that they were talking about saving the company and investors," Jolanka Horvat, president of the in-house trade union, told the STA.

Since the workers received new contracts when they were re-hired in 2009, they are only entitled to three-month unemployment benefits. However, they will also get severance and back pay from the Public Guarantee Fund.

Cvetka Sreš, head of the Murska Sobota branch of the Employment Service, told the STA her team were ready for the influx of requests for benefits.

But she warned that the employment prospects for the redundant workers were slim, since 600 from the Mura bankruptcy in 2009 are still registered as unemployed while about 800 got new jobs.