Criticism and optimism at vapiano’s annual general meeting

Criticism and optimism at vapiano's annual general meeting

The top management of the troubled vapiano restaurant chain has come in for sharp criticism from shareholders.

The company "burned" a lot of money during the expansion and was not able to pull the reins in time, said small shareholder matthias gabler at the annual general meeting in koln. Other shareholders were also dissatisfied and rated the situation as "very critical".

Last year, vapiano generated sales of 372 million euros and suffered a loss of 101 million euros. "In just one year, 100 million euros were vaporized in the kitchen," said one shareholder, who did not want to be named, shaking his head.

One reason for the poor mood was the miserable share price: since the stock market flotation two years ago, the vapiano share has lost more than 80 percent of its value.

The shareholders’ meeting in a colonn hotel not far from the company’s headquarters was scheduled to be the last major appearance of vapiano boss cornelius everke. On sunday, he unexpectedly announced his resignation at the end of the month, even though his contract ran until summer 2021. Everke has been on the board since may 2018 and took over the chairmanship in december. It worked out a restructuring program to slow down expansion – since the beginning of the year, five restaurants have been closed and only eight new ones opened. As a result, the total number of local banks worldwide has risen to 234, about a third of them in germany.

Everke presented his already well-known strategy at the meeting: in addition to its changed expansion, vapiano wants to improve workflows and slim down the menu card. According to participants, the outgoing CEO reaffirmed the goal of returning to profit in 2021. Shareholders expressed their displeasure that everke, of all people, was pointing the way to a future in which he himself no longer wanted to participate. Representatives of the press were not permitted to attend the annual general meeting.

Despite the tense situation, investors also expressed tentative hope. He is quite optimistic that the strategy will lead to an improvement in the situation, said thomas hechtfischer of the deutsche schutzvereinigung fur wertpapierbesitz (DSW), the german association for the protection of investors. Gabler stressed: "italian food is still in fashion." And small shareholder klaus teitscheid added: "maybe this will become a rough affair at some point after all."

Vanessa hall, chairman of the vapiano board of directors, was also involved in the deal. 52-year-old british woman to succeed everke for now. Shareholder gabler could do little with this personnel development. As head controller, hall stood idly by for too long during the failed expansion with many loss-makers in the restaurant network. "There it failed."

In the meantime, it has been announced that the koln-based company has lost another top manager in addition to everke. The former head of vapiano germany, martin heuer, will join the board of block house in september, as the hamburg-based restaurant chain announced on inquiry. Previously, the trade magazine "foodservice" had reported that.

Some sites abroad in particular are performing poorly. Experts insist on a drafty reorganization. "The task now is to quickly close down non-profitable restaurants," says boris tomic, editor-in-chief of foodservice. This is particularly important in poorly performing markets such as australia and the united states. Vapiano should concentrate on germany, france and austria.

Your U.S. Business already wanted to get rid of vapiano; at the beginning of the year, a purchase agreement worth 20 million U.S. Dollars was signed with a californian service provider. But he didn’t pay, so now vapiano has to look for a new buyer. This news, which became public last week, led to a further deterioration of the situation. Only two days later, everke announced his resignation – for "personal reasons". This is "extremely bad timing," shareholders accused him.

One of the coarse shareholders saw it similarly. Hans-joachim sander, who together with his wife and wella heiress gisa sander holds more than 15 percent of the share capital, told "spiegel online" that he had little understanding for everke’s decision – he expected "steadfastness" from a company boss. By contrast, the CEO gave hall’s designated successor a positive assessment, calling her an "excellent manager.


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