French retailer Intermarché has opened 86 Belgian stores in one go after acquiring Carrefour‘s former master franchiser Groupe Mestdagh. The Carrefour Market all reopened with a new sign on the front: they are now called “Intermarché by Mestdagh”. What else will change?
In just two days, all 86 stores made the switch from Carrefour to Intermarché, staying closed just on 2 and 3 January. After French supermarket group Intermarché received the green light from the Belgian competition authority in November to turn Groupe Mestdagh away from its former franchisee Carrefour, the integration is now really a done deal.
For now, many things remain as before in the shops: opening hours remain unchanged, franchisees and employees remain on board, as do outsourced departments. Nothing will change for employees in the integrated stores either (for now), although this has been reason for concern. In a special meeting on 9 January, the new owner will tell staff more about the its future plans. So far, Intermarché had no integrated branches in Belgium: all existing shops are franchise shops, which fall under different labour conditions. Employees have been highly concerned about this in recent months, leading, among other things, to strike action.
To the north
With the takeover, Intermarché adds 86 Belgian shops to the 77 existing stores to make an entity of 163 stores – a force to be reckoned with as it accounts for a 12.4 % market share in French-speaking Belgium. As of today, the group has more than 225,000 sqm of retail space and generates a combined turnover of 1.432 billion euros. Moreover, the chain now expands to Brussels and Flanders for the first time. Previous attempts by the group to gain a foothold in the Dutch-speaking North were unsuccessful.
Intermarché has repeatedly confirmed that it would not close any shops, although there are doubts about at least a small number of them: after all, in several locations, the acquired Mestdagh store is located close to an existing Intermarché, which seems difficult to sustain in the long term. For some shops, by the way, it is the fourth name change in a good twenty years: they went from the original “Super M” in the late 1990s to Champion, the banner of the French group Promodès. That later merged with Carrefour, after which the supermarkets were converted to the Carrefour Market formula, and now Intermarché follows.