On Wednesday, the Antwerp corporate court gave the green light to the takeover of the shops of catering wholesaler Metro by the Dutch company Sligro. The takeover should be completed in the first week of January, the new owner expects. The stores will then close briefly and, after technical adjustments and replenishment of stocks, will open again one by one by the middle of the month, according to a press release on Wednesday.

Sligro Food Group is taking over nine Metro stores (Antwerp-South, Wevelgem, Liège, Hasselt, Middelkerke, Namur, Sint-Katelijne-Waver, Brussels and Vorst), with the exception of the store in Antwerp-North. The Metro store in Evergem will go to the vzw Beheer Comm. VA, known as Horeca Van Zon, who had only bid on this establishment. On Wednesday, the 22nd chamber of the business court in Antwerp authorized the court representatives at Makro Cash & Carry Belgium to accept the combined bids and to sell these parts.

All employees of the nine Metro stores will be taken over by Sligro, including those who work in North Antwerp if they wish, it sounds. They are offered a job in the store in Antwerp South. Sligro is also taking over a hundred employees from the regional structure and head office. According to Sligro, this concerns 506 jobs in total.

Sligro offered 47 million euros – including the real estate in Liège – plus 75 percent of the value of the stocks. The exact value will be determined the day before the takeover, it sounds on Wednesday. The offer could thus rise to 60 million, as was previously known. Horeca Van Zon offered 400,000 euros, without the stocks.

The acquisition must also receive approval from the Belgian Competition Authority, but it already conducted an investigation during the period of judicial reorganization and did not see any problems for the competition: the BCA already granted “an unconditional decision to grant exemption”, says Sligro. The investigation has yet to be formally completed.

The acquisition is expected to be completed in the first week of January. Sligro is completing the formalities for this with the court representatives. The Metro stores will close briefly after the takeover, only to reopen one by one after adjustments based on the technical infrastructure and product ranges of Sligro Food Group. The Dutch group notes that Metro had an annual turnover of approximately 300 million euros before the judicial reorganization procedure, but expects a “significantly lower start-up turnover” after reopening. The judicial reorganization procedure caused unrest among staff and customers, it sounds. Sligro expects it could take several years before turnover is up to par again.

The management of Makro Cash & Carry had also made an offer for the Metro stores, but that barely amounted to 110,000 euros and did not meet the conditions, according to the Antwerp business court.

Only one bid had been received for the six Makro stores, which had already been rejected. What will happen now with Makro, which employs more than 1,200 people, is highly uncertain. The group was granted court protection from its creditors in September, until mid-January. If no buyer is found, bankruptcy is imminent.

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