The possibility of new transfers of Casino stores concerns the unions, who fear a “dismemberment” and have come together as an inter-union organization (AFP / DENIS CHARLET)
The Casino group, still in great difficulty, is listening to the market to sell new super and hypermarkets: this does not change the project of the buyers of the whole, including the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, but concerns the unions, which fear a “dismemberment” and have gathered together in an inter-union union.
There is an uproar among employee representatives: the five Casino union organizations (FO, CGT, CFDT, UNSA, CFE-CGC) have formed an inter-union organization, the two spokespersons announced to AFP on Tuesday that they nominated Nathalie Devienne (FO) and Jean Pastor (CGT).
In their eyes, “Daniel Kretinsky is preparing a carve-up of the group, with a new wave of store sales which will have serious consequences for the other subsidiaries, logistics and head offices”, declared Nathalie Devienne Tuesday evening, regretting that the employees are “kept completely aside”.
– “Merry Christmas” –
She specifies that meetings have been requested with the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire, the consortium of buyers and operational management. “If they refuse, we will mobilize employees to offer them a Merry Christmas,” warned Jean Pastor.
Earlier Tuesday, the commerce and services branch of the CGT was upset that employees had learned through the press “the possible sale of 52 hypermarkets and 291 supermarkets by the company’s management”.
On Monday, Casino announced that it was ready to study “marks of interest” from competitors for the purchase of its large format stores, super and hypermarkets, beyond those which are already the subject of an agreement with Intermarché, covering 119 stores plus around sixty options.
The group did not specify which scope was this time affected by a possible sale.
But several sources close to the matter confirmed press information to AFP according to which the entire park of super and hypermarkets could be sold if there is an interested buyer.
The daily Les Echos revealed on Sunday that the group, which still had 200,000 employees including 50,000 in France at the end of 2022, had received expressions of interest and that potential candidates had until Wednesday to make their possible interest known.
A source close to the matter told AFP on Tuesday that it was a rather “indicative” date.
Strangled by debt that had become unsustainable, the group of Saint-Etienne origins reached an agreement last summer with most of its creditors, on the one hand, and the buyers, the billionaires Daniel Kretinsky, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and the Attestor fund. , on the other hand, for a restructuring of this debt.
– The buyers “attached” to the Saint-Etienne headquarters –
This will be done via a very significant waiver of receivables, the sale of activities in Latin America for which three quarters of the group work, and through a capital increase expected to bring 1.2 billion euros of new money in total, at at the end of which the emblematic CEO of the group Jean-Charles Naouri will lose control. The handover is expected around the first quarter of 2024.
But the situation at Casino, which has repeatedly lowered its economic outlook, was described as “catastrophic” on Monday by CFDT union delegate Guillaume Touminet. The sale of large format stores could reduce areas of loss.
In any event, possible sales of super and hypermarkets by the Casino group “would in no way affect our desire” to take control “and to invest in the development of the rest of the scope, particularly in the brands Monoprix and Franprix,” a spokesperson for the EP group of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky in France told AFP on Tuesday.
“We understand Casino’s decision to examine offers from credible players for the acquisition of a certain number of hypermarkets and supermarkets”, added this spokesperson, saying however “committed to maintaining a headquarters in Saint-Étienne”, historic cradle of the group.
In mid-July, Bruno Le Maire reported that “the State will be vigilant on employment” and on maintaining the “headquarters in Saint-Etienne”. “Bercy is very attentive to the Casino file and reiterates the minister’s comments,” the Ministry of the Economy told AFP on Monday.