The representative trade union organisations have agreed "unanimously" to promote this procedure, which reflects the concern of employees and allows them to ask management for explanations.

An expert has been mandated in this context, AFP learned Monday from three unions of the distributor employing 200,000 people worldwide, including more than 50,000 in France.

The trade unions have "mandated an expert to go on a right of economic alert," Nathalie Devienne, of the group's first organization, SNTA-FO, told AFP on Monday.

As part of this procedure, "two question sheets were submitted to the management" of Distribution Casino France (DCF), the entity where Casino's activity is housed in France. This, in order to know in more detail the economic situation of the distributor of Saint-Etienne origin. "When we have the answers of the management, we will trigger the procedure of right of alert," says Nathalie Devienne.

"We are obliged to go through it to trigger a possible right of alert," explains for his part to AFP Jean-Luc Farfal, group delegate for the CFDT, concerned about "the debt" of the distributor, which earned him to have entered at the end of May in a procedure of renegotiation, called conciliation, with his creditors.

Frédéric Buisson, of UNSA, also confirmed the launch of this procedure to AFP.

"At the CSEC meeting, he voted for an expertise on the project of store sales" to Intermarché, "which could lead to a right of alert but to date this procedure has not been voted," said AFP the communication department of Casino brands.

Casino Group CEO Jean-Charles Naouri in Paris, February 21, 2013 © Eric PIERMONT / AFP/Archives

For his part, the boss of the group Jean-Charles Naouri sent Monday a letter to employees, in which he assures of his "total determination to overcome this ordeal and preserve the interests of Casino".

The Central Social and Economic Committee (CSEC) of Casino had been convened Monday to study the list of stores that will be sold to the competitor Intermarché, third chain of supermarkets in France.

Pretenders' Ball

57 stores are to be sold by the end of the year, including 10 hypermarkets, according to information from the specialized media LSA confirmed Monday by several sources. However, the list may change after examination by the Autorité de la concurrence in particular.

In total, 119 stores, located mainly outside Casino's key business areas (Ile-de-France, Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) are to be sold since, in addition to the 57 mentioned above, 62 should be sold within three years.

The operation is a cause for concern for the representatives of the employees concerned by this change of brand because at Intermarché, the social policy depends on each store owner, the brand being a group of independents.

This store sale is only one episode in a long soap opera on the future of Casino, which interests the entire sector and arouses the interest of several contenders.

Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky has already positioned himself by proposing a capital increase of some 750 million euros that would make him the main shareholder of Casino.

This offer, conditional on a very significant reduction in the burden of debt weighing on the distributor, is being studied in the context of the conciliation procedure.

In parallel, Xavier Niel (Free), investment banker Matthieu Pigasse and distribution specialist Moez-Alexandre Zouari, have decided to create a financial vehicle with a financial contribution of 300 million euros to increase Casino's capital. They are calling on other actors to join them.

Their initiative follows the decision of the agro-industrial group InVivo and its subsidiary Teract (which Mr. Niel, Mr. Pigasse and Mr. Zouari had participated in co-founding) to put an end to their merger project with Casino.

"The Casino file has become more complex: more debt, a decline in market share," explained Monday on BFM Business Thierry Blandinières, CEO of InVivo.

And according to him, beyond the debt, there is another subject: "Will Casino be able to start again, restart the machine?"

© 2023 AFP