German retailer Metro is looking for a buyer for its Belgian branch, which has been haemorrhaging money for years. Seventeen stores are up for grabs. Analysts think the most likely buyers are two Dutch retailers.
The Metro group has two chains in Belgium: its eponymous chain of hospitality suppliers has eleven stores in the Kingdom, while wholesaler Makro has six. The Belgian branch has been in financial trouble for a while: in the financial year 2019-2020, the company had losses of 44 million euros on a turnover of 714 million, a year earlier loses even were 67 million on a turnover of 738 million. In the last few years, the Belgian branch has cost the retailer some 420 million euros. Several attempts of restructuring and repositioning the chains were unsuccessful: especially the Makro chain battles with enormous costs and an outdated concept.
Belgian business newspaper De Tijd now reports that Metro has asked the Rothschild bank to explore all the options for a sale, and it is reported there have already been talks with interested buyers. The Dutch Sligro Group may be one – after all, the group has already done several acquisitions in Belgium. Moreover, supermarket chain Jumbo might be interested as well, although the huge Makro stores are way too big to host only a supermarket.
Metro has not confirmed the reports. Belgian CEO Vincent Nolf told the Belga news agency that these were “rumours and speculations which we cannot comment on”.