Casino only recorded a 1% increase in turnover in the first quarter. The French supermarket group even declined in its home market. All hopes are now pinned on price cuts and an acquisition.
Sharp decline in the domestic market
Casino has had a very difficult start to the year. The group’s turnover increased by only 1% to 5.4 billion euros, while sales in France fell by 0.4%. These figures are all the more striking as high inflation has pushed up food prices. In particular, the group’s French hypermarkets and supermarkets performed poorly: -9.9% on a like-for-like basis.
The group is currently cutting prices by 5-10% (depending on location), but will be running fewer promotions. Last year, Casino had tried to do the opposite, by multiplying the promotions, but this no longer seems possible today. The group has nevertheless opened 198 new shops during the quarter, mainly franchised convenience stores.
In the supermarkets, on the other hand, the number of customers has already stabilised. Moreover, Paris and the local brands (Franprix and Monoprix) were spared. The discounter Leader Price is also doing well, with the redesigned store concept accounting for 7% of volumes. E-commerce recorded double-digit growth.
But it is mainly Latin America that is driving growth at Casino. In this region, Grupo Pao de Acucar and Grupo Éxito recorded comparable sales growth of 9.5%, while Ebitda increased by 27 million euros to 108 million euros.
A difficult choice ahead
Meanwhile, the main shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri is still trying to control the mountain of debt, which now stands at 5.1 billion euros. By the end of the year, the group wants to get rid of 4.5 billion euros, of which 1.3 billion euros are already gone. Casino has sold an 18.8% stake in its Brazilian chain Assai and several real estate and other assets in France.
However, Naouri is now faced with an important choice: on the one hand, Czech retail investor Daniel Kretinsky wants to take over the group; on the other, Casino is in exclusive partnership talks with agribusiness Teract and rival Intermarché. What will happen?