Illustrative image of a Conforama sign.
DENIS CHARLET / AFP
Conforama was officially sold to Mobilux, parent company of its competitor But, on Wednesday, with the appointment of a new president, Alain Souillard, announced to employees in a letter.
“Discussions on the sale of Conforama France to Mobilux continued during the summer.
I tell you that they are now closed, ”indicates in an internal letter the former CEO of Conforama Marc Ténart.
"The sale operation is finalized and the change of shareholder is therefore effective as of this day", he adds.
The 162 stores and all employees taken over
“Today marks a new strategic step for us: the entry of a new shareholder, the Mobilux group, by our side,” confirms the new chairman, Alain Souillard, in another internal memo.
"This merger allows the constitution of an alliance between the two main French furniture distributors in France".
In addition, the transaction "provides in particular for a contribution of 200 million euros in equity to relaunch the investment programs of Conforama France", specified Mobilux in a press release later, which "takes over the 162 stores of the brand and all employees ”.
The takeover of Conforama from the South African group Steinhoff was announced in July, after several weeks of negotiations.
Steinhoff had announced the sale of "100% of its shares" in Conforama France to Mobilux, a structure common to the Austrian industrial group Lutz, present in 15 European countries, and to the American investment fund Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD & R ), and owner of But.
"Compete with the giants of our sector"
Together, the But and Conforama banners aim to "compete with the giants of our sector, whether they are distributors or" pure players "", shops with a unique activity, writes Alain Souillard.
The merger "also allows us to think of ourselves as a French champion capable of supporting the French furniture industry".
"Mobilux will implement all means to enable the two brands to be stronger against specialized distribution networks and e-merchants, while respecting their strengths and their identities", said in a statement Terry Leahy, Chairman of the supervisory boards of But and Conforama.
“Is the social break-up really and definitely over?
According to the specialist magazine LSA, which revealed the official sale, “between them, with their 460 stores and around 3.5 billion euros in turnover, the two brands are now ahead of Ikea with more than one quarter of the furniture market ”.
Note that the Competition Authority "is continuing its investigation in the context of merger control" on this merger, specifies Mobilux.
For its part, FO, second union at Conforama, stressed Thursday that it "does not give any blank check to the new Mobilux shareholder".
In a press release, the union wonders about the new business strategy and the social impact of the merger.
Conforama benefited from a loan guaranteed by the State (PGE) of 300 million euros, the first tranche of which was used to finance an employment safeguard plan covering 1,905 employees.
The second tranche has been released, according to the union which asks: "Is the social breakdown really and definitively over?
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