A Casino supermarket
by Dominique Vidalon
Intermarché and Auchan have entered into discussions on a purchasing alliance, a week after having made a joint offer to buy all of Casino’s supermarkets and hypermarkets, the two brands announced on Tuesday in a joint press release.
“Intermarché and Auchan have come together to discuss the bases of a long-term purchasing alliance whose objective is to capitalize on the strengths and complementarities of the two groups. These discussions are in addition to the current alliance Auxo (alliance between Intermarché and Casino)”, indicates the press release.
The alliance includes negotiation for the purchase of non-food products and consumer food products from major national brands, the two groups announced.
This new alliance would represent around 30% of the market with the addition of Auchan’s market shares (9%) to those of Intermarché-Casino.
This announcement comes as Casino employees, worried about their future, demonstrated on Tuesday in Paris and Saint-Etienne (Loire), at the group’s historic headquarters.
Heavily indebted, Casino signed a “lock-up” agreement in October with its main creditors, including Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, which provides for an equity contribution as well as a reduction in the group’s net debt.
Last week, Casino confirmed having received preliminary expressions of interest with a view to acquiring stores in the hypermarket and supermarket perimeter, without however specifying the buyers or the number of stores that the company plans to sell.
Serge Papin, director of Auchan Retail International, confirmed last week on BFM Business that his group and Intermarché had made an offer for all of the supermarkets and hypermarkets still owned by the Casino group.
The Les Mousquetaires group, parent company of Intermarché, has already agreed to buy around 61 stores from Casino in May. Intermarché also has a purchase option on a second group of 72 stores, exercisable within three years at the latest.
A source close to the matter told Reuters that “almost all established players in the French market” have shown interest in the sales process.
“The idea is to try to do it in 2023,” added this source.
Casino is working to reach a rescue deal to avoid bankruptcy early next year, when Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky will take control of the group.
If finalized, the sale of hypermarkets and supermarkets would significantly reduce the size of Casino. Its turnover would increase from 33.6 billion euros in 2022 to around 8 billion, and its market share in France would be halved to around 3%, estimates Nicolas Champ, analyst at Barclays.
(French version by Zhifan Liu)