What employees and unions feared, will come true: the Mestdagh group’s integrated stores will be transferred to independent operators of Intermarché, which aims to become number one in Wallonia and Brussels and also grow in Flanders.
Less favourable working conditions
Eventually, all integrated branches of former Carrefour franchise partner Groupe Mestdagh will enter the hands of independent entrepreneurs, the Intermarché management announced on Monday. The Musketeers’ business model (with independent shops) guarantees better performance, greater adaptability and better local anchoring, the retailer said. At stake are 51 of the 86 acquired supermarkets that have been carrying the “Intermarché by Mestdagh” signboard since last week.
With this, the French food retailer seems to confirm the concerns of employees who fear that they will soon have to accept a less favourable employee status. Indeed, wages are somewhat lower and more flexibility is expected from employees in independent stores. The unions stay they are still waiting for concrete answers to their questions.
Denying another unions’ fear, however, there is no talk of shop closures or layoffs. The transfer of the branches to independent entrepreneurs will take place gradually, in compliance with social legislation and in dialogue with unions and staff. Intermarché is investing in Mestdagh’s staff: an extensive training programme started in recent weeks. Expected sales growth should also lead to an expansion of operations at Mestdagh’s logistics centre in Gosselies.
Intermarché says it wants to become number one in Wallonia and Brussels and also develop in Flanders – where it has two shops since the acquisition. The chain now has 163 shops in Belgium, totalling more than 225,000 sqm of retail space. The combined turnover is 1.6 billion, corresponding to a 12.4 % market share.
“Our ambition for all Mestdagh shops is historic and gives us the opportunity to turn the page after some difficult years. With the Intermarché model and independent entrepreneurs, Mestdagh shops will regain the entrepreneurial spirit of the early days while benefiting from significant investments,” said Guillaume Beuscart, general manager of Mestdagh SA.