The future of Casino again before the commercial court

The future of Casino again before the commercial court

Paris (AFP) – A week to gain more clarity about the jobs threatened at Casino: the Paris commercial court is due to consider the rescue plan for the troubled distributor on Monday, seven days after an initial hearing that was suspended at the request of the unions.

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Directors of brands, representatives of management and buyers, who, barring any major surprises, will determine the fate of Casino in March/April, and representatives of the 50,000 employees in France: with the exception of Jean-Charles Naouri, CEO for a few more weeks, they were all present in the courtroom last Monday for a public hearing on the future of the beleaguered group.

But the court granted the CSEC’s (Central Social and Economic Committee) request to postpone the debates for a week, to try to remedy as much as possible the lack of a ‘social component’ in the safeguard plan.

CSEC lawyers argued that such a component is mandatory when job cuts are considered.

However, between the time this indemnity plan was negotiated and today, the group has “worked” with its competitors Auchan, Intermarché and Carrefour to sell them 288 large stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets.

A large-scale operation that will result in the transfer of approximately 12,800 employees and which will have serious consequences for the support functions within the remaining part of the group.

In total, the unions estimate that 6,000 jobs are at risk.

Voluntary departure plans

At the end of the hearing on Monday, CSEC’s lawyers indicated that they were waiting until current management and future management could “make commitments,” which would not require renegotiation of the bailout plan that had been discussed for months.

On Wednesday evening, the group’s union said that voluntary exit plans, within a range to be negotiated, within the entities covered by a job protection plan, had been promised by the representatives of the consortium of buyers, billionaires Daniel Kretinsky and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière. , supported by the British fund Attestor.

A Casino supermarket in Ploubalay (Côtes-d'Armor), July 5, 2023
A Casino supermarket in Ploubalay (Côtes-d’Armor), July 5, 2023 © Damien MEYER / AFP/Archives

In addition, dismissed employees will be able to benefit from “extra-statutory” compensation, according to the union, which expects, however, that this “will be the subject of a precise, quantified and concrete commitment from the consortium”.

Françoise Maréchal Thieullent, one of the lawyers for the central CSE of Distribution Casino France (DCF), told AFP that she hoped “the commitments will be communicated or repeated to the court on Monday” in terms of support for workers at risk of their lose a job. . DCF is the entity that houses Casino’s commercial activities in France.

The court has until the end of the accelerated bail period on February 25 to approve the plan.

The various capital increases must then take place in March and a general meeting of new shareholders must immediately decide on the new composition of the board of directors.

As for the stores sold, they will take place in three consecutive waves: on April 30, May 31 and July 1.

What then remains of the Casino Group? On Wednesday evening, the union announced that it had been informed by management that “indications of interest” had been received from competitors for the takeover of the 26 stores that neither Intermarché, Auchan nor Carrefour were interested in, totaling as much as About 1,200 employees worked. .

Casino workers, subcontractors and elected officials demonstrate in Saint-Etienne, December 17, 2023
Casino workers, subcontractors and elected officials demonstrate in Saint-Etienne, December 17, 2023 © OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE / AFP/Archives

That would leave a network of more than 6,000 local stores in the regions under the Spar, Vival or Le Petit Casino brands, which would represent a turnover of 1.5 billion euros in 2022. In addition to the e-retailer CDiscount, with mediocre results, a thousand Franprix stores (75% of which are franchises) with an annual turnover of 1.5 billion euros, and Monoprix.

The latter, a city brand, has 20,000 employees and 800 stores under one of its five brands (Monoprix, monop’, monop’beauty, Monoprix Maison and Naturalia), for an annual turnover of more than 4 billion euros.

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