Off for Karstadt branch: “This is not the big hit for the pedestrian zone”

Off for Karstadt branch
“This is not the big hit for the pedestrian zone”

Almost 50 Karstadt branches have to close. Many affected cities now fear that their inner cities will be deserted. Not so Celle. Lord Mayor Nigge saw the end coming for a long time and has been successfully fighting the vacancy in the center for years. He has more ideas.

Galeria Karstadt Kaufhof wants to close almost 50 branches – including yours in Celle. The department stores have long been considered magnets from which the surrounding shops have benefited. How bad is the end for the entire pedestrian zone in Celle?

Jörg Nigge: I would question whether Galeria Karstadt was really such a big magnet. For some reason they don’t seem to have gotten along financially – and of course that’s partly due to the lack of an audience. We have been in the process of relocating owner-managed shops in a mix with large chains here for six years. This enabled us to reduce the vacancy rate by half. So that works well, which is why I don’t see the end as a big blow for the entire pedestrian zone.

Did you expect that?

Of course, we have been dealing with this scenario for two to three years. Anyone who looked at the development at Galeria Karstadt had to reckon with it. I feel very sorry for every single employee. However, I believe that they will have no problem finding new jobs in the current job market. Of course we also support.

How did you perceive the reaction of the Celle population to the end?

I think that was very similar. Many Cellers have been openly talking about it for months. Nobody was really surprised on Monday. Most got over it quickly. At least that was my impression.

Are you already considering what will happen to the property?

Jörg Nigge (CDU) has been mayor of the Lower Saxony city of Celle since 2017.

(Photo: picture alliance / dpa)

Of course we would have a lot of ideas and in fact we already have two or three more concrete interested parties. Not for a complete takeover, but for individual sub-areas. The further procedure now depends massively on the condition of the property and the owner.

The “Deutschen Mittelstand Real Estate AG” from the Hessian Langen …

Yes, fortunately we have a German owner here on site. We can approach that more easily than foreign investors. We have been in contact with the owner for a long time – also because of other properties. So I am confident that we will find a compromise. In any case, the owner seems to have a vital interest in re-letting.

What is the condition of the property?


As an administration, we cannot estimate that. But it also depends on the needs of the interested parties.

Could you imagine adopting the building as a city?

Yes, that could also be one of the options. But like I said, it depends on what the owner wants.

So you’re not afraid that the department store will become a ruin? In other cities of your size, this has been a problem for years…

That would be a very bitter scenario – and I certainly cannot rule it out. We haven’t spoken to the owner since the decision. Of course, he will want a positive business result. That should be clear. On the other hand, it is about the condition of the property. We don’t know him at the moment. So we have to see what can be done.

The interview first appeared on

Jannik Tillar spoke to Jörg Nigge

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