Social agreement on closure of two D’Ieteren Centers
Trade unions and management at the Belgian D’Ieteren car group have reached a social agreement on the closure of the Drogenbos and Ixelles sites. Around a hundred employees will lose their job. The closure is scheduled for December 31, says the union.
In June, negotiations were started at D’Ieteren to reduce the wage and working conditions at all the group’s garages, in line with the rest of the market. A strike was called against this, also because, according to the unions, D’Ieteren is a company that is thriving and that announcements were made for investments for the future.
But according to the management, the two sites were no longer profitable while the workforce and unions were very unsatisfied with the centers’ new payment and working conditions. According to the unions, the Drogenbos site has never been profitable, and the Center Mail (in the same building as D’Ieteren’s headquarters) was a very costly business.
The conflict culminated in a referendum in September in which 73% of the employees of the D’Ieteren Centers rejected the management’s proposal to close the two sites. This rejection led to the management’s decision to close the two sites, in Drogenbos and Ixelles, definitively.
These are the D’Ieteren Center Mail garage in Ixelles and the Wondercar coachworks in Drogenbos. The other D’Ieteren Centers in Zaventem and Anderlecht still employ around 280 people.
These garages are responsible for sales and after-sales services for the Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, Seat, Bentley, and Lamborghini brands. Last year, a transformation plan of D’Ieteren Auto already resulted in 123 redundancies.
Car importer and services group D’Ieteren has advanced plans to build a network of bicycle shops across Belgium. The projects are part of a process in which the company is shifting its focus from a car company to a “mobility provider”.
‘Leader in sustainable mobility
The plans are separate from the redundancies at the group’s garages, but the first bicycle shop should open its doors in March or April in an empty section of D’Ieteren Mail, the ground floor of the D’Ieteren headquarters in Ixelles’ chic Chatelain neighborhood where the garage is also located.
In July, D’Ieteren announced that it is investing € 1,2 billion in forklift trucks specialist TVH Parts and that three new shareholders are coming on board at car glass repairer Belron, known for the Carglass brand, for an amount of € 2,2 billion.
In January, D’Ieteren Auto changed its name to become ‘D’Ieteren’. The new identity should position it along with the group’s other activities (Belron, Moleskine, and D’Ieteren Immo) and mark a change in strategy. By 2025, D’Ieteren aims at becoming the leader in sustainable mobility in Belgium.