Carrefour has eye on Grand Frais

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Carrefour is considering to take over Prosol, owner of the French fresh food chain Grand Frais. However, the target is no small beer: the takeover could well cost between 3 and 4 billion euros.


Tactical acquisition

Carrefour has set its sights on Prosol, the umbrella company above the Grand Frais fresh food markets. The fruit and vegetables, fish and dairy departments in those stores are managed by Prosol itself, while other partners take care of the butcher's, grocery and bakery departments. In the event of a takeover, Carrefour would therefore largely control Grand Frais.


Since 2017, Prosol also has its own store concept, called Fresh. That chain has about 20 stores, but hopes to have 100 branches by 2025. Prosol has also opened two stores in Italy under the Banco Fresco banner.


CEO Alexandre Bompard has reportedly appointed bank BNP Paribas to initiate takeover talks. "Carrefour's finance department is increasingly emphasising towards investors and analysts the retailer's desire to make tactical acquisitions in countries where it is already present, following the acquisitions of Wellcome in Taiwan, Supersol in Spain and Makro in Brazil in 2020," Nicolas Champ, an analyst at Barclays, told trade magazine Agefi. Last year Carrefour bought organic chain Bio C'Bon.


Ambitious plan

Still, this plan is very ambitious: it would be one of the largest acquisitions ever for the retail group. Ardian, Prosol's majority shareholder, expects to receive between 3 and 4 billion euros for the company. Last year, Grand Frais’ grocery division Euro Ethnic Foods was taken over by PAI Partners for over a billion euros.


Although PAI Partners is apparently no longer welcome at Grand Frais, a number of American private funds are eying the brand. It will therefore not be an easy job for Carrefour to convince the board of directors. Unless, of course, the political protectionism that first chased Couche-Tard away from Carrefour would now work in favour of the retail group…