Zielpunkt's owner, Upper Austrian businessman Georg Pfeiffer, has been accused of deliberately letting the business fail after gaining control of dozens of Zielpunkt properties and of timing the insolvency filing for the end of November so that he could avoid paying Christmas bonuses to the chain's employees (saving him around €18 million).
Zielpunkt has debts of more than €200 million. It has 229 stores throughout Austria, the majority in Vienna and Lower Austria.
Pfeiffer has been defending himself from allegations that he is an asset stripper and stands to profit from letting the chain go bust. In an interview with the Österreich newspaper he said that he would be prepared to use money from private funds to help soften the blow for workers who are left without a job just before Christmas, but that he was prevented from doing that by Austrian law.
He added that he has been speaking to the head of the Arbeitsmarkt Service Johannes Kopf, and would work closely with him to help employees find another job.
Unions are holding meetings today to inform employees about the current situation.