Paris (AFP)

The sale of Conforama to Mobilux, parent company of its competitor Goal, was formalized with the appointment of a new CEO, Alain Souillard, announced to employees on Wednesday in two letters from the old and the new management obtained by the AFP Thursday.

"Discussions on the sale of Conforama France to Mobilux continued during the summer. I am announcing 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.

"Today marks a new strategic step for us: the entry of a new shareholder, the Mobilux group, by our side", confirms in another internal note the new managing director, Alain Souillard.

"This merger allows the constitution of an Alliance between the two main French distributors of furniture in France", indicates the new head of Conforama France, who underlines that "as announced, the independence of the two brands will be preserved and cultivated: Purpose and Conforama France will remain independent companies with distinct brand identities and commercial policies. The head offices remain separate ".

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 fifteen European countries, and to the American investment fund Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), and owner of But.

Together, the But and Conforama brands aim to "compete with the giants of our sector, whether they are distributors or pure players", writes Mr. Souillard.

The merger "also allows us to think of ourselves as a French champion capable of supporting the French furniture industry".

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 ".

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?".

Conforama benefits from a € 200 million capital increase subscribed by Mobilux as part of this acquisition.

© 2020 AFP