Couche-Tard is not the only one in charge. Food giant Metro also has pan-Canadian ambitions. According to its president: “The best defense [contre une acquisition]is performance and growth! ”
• Read also: Metro continues to do gold business
• Read also: COVID-19: Jean Coutu open to vaccinating Quebecers
“Over the years, it has come and gone that Metro could be sold. Metro is still here! We have experienced good growth and our plan is to continue, ”replied President and Chief Executive Officer Eric La Flèche.
On Tuesday, Metro released financial results for its first quarter of 2021. The company reported sales of $ 4.28 billion for its fiscal year ended December 19. This is a jump of 6.2%.
Due to the pandemic, online food sales have continued to explode. This time around, 170% over last year.
By September 2021, Metro hopes to offer its in-store pick-up service in 170 supermarkets in Quebec and Ontario.
Asked whether management feared receiving a friendly or hostile purchase offer from a competitor, the big boss ruled that “Metro is not for sale”. However, he did not hide that his organization was not immune to receiving a proposal like Alimentation Couche-Tard recently did to grapple with the French giant Carrefour.
Present in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick (Jean Coutu), Metro wishes to continue to grow in the coming years, in order to become even more difficult to swallow. The retailer mentioned at Newspaper not have received any offer to purchase in the past few months.
Without having a budget or a precise schedule to complete a possible acquisition, management says it is in good financial position if an opportunity arises. And the playing field is all of Canada.
The expansion could be done organically or through acquisition.
“Our radar is Canadian for food and pharmacies. We remain with the influx of opportunities. We have a good balance sheet and we are in a good position, ”said Mr. La Flèche, who still believes in the importance of opening supermarkets, despite the growth of online commerce.
“We have a normal store opening and expansion plan each year. We don’t open tons of stores, between four and five a year. […] The rollout plan for banners will continue alongside e-commerce, ”he added.
In particular, Metro hopes to expand its Marché Adonis banner in Ontario over the next few years.
Impacts of the pandemic
During the first quarter of 2021, the costs related to various measures related to COVID-19 amounted to $ 28 million for Metro. Of this amount, $ 8 million was used for gift cards offered to 45,000 employees.
Metro now expects restrictions on non-essential products in Quebec to impact sales of its pharmacies division in its second quarter. Comparable drugstore sales have declined 11.7% since December. As for food, comparable store sales increased 12.0%.
Jean Coutu open to vaccinating Quebecers: ca few questions to Eric La Flèche
1. Is the Jean Coutu Group open to the idea of participating in the vaccination campaign for Quebecers against COVID-19?
“With the success of our influenza vaccination campaign in our pharmacies last fall, our network of owner pharmacists will be ready to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination effort as soon as the government requests it.”
2. Quebec is chairing a pan-Canadian committee that could design a code of conduct aimed at regulating the practices of retailers and distributors. What do you think ?
“We don’t think it’s necessary to have government intervention in relations between suppliers and retailers. We promote open and constructive dialogue. ”
3. How did you react when Quebec said it was ready to block the sale of Metro? Are you worried that it will interfere with the progress of your action?
“Legally, there is no law in Quebec or in Canada that could block an acquisition, if there was one. […] It is certain that the politician could have his say, but legally, there is no law which would prevent that. “
4. Do you think that buying local will remain a priority?
“Yes, we think that buying local is a fundamental trend that will continue. […] From around 200 local suppliers, we have grown to 300 in the past year ”.
5. Do you plan to add bonuses for your workers?
“We appreciate the work of our people on the front lines. […] In January, we announced another bonus (gift cards) which will be payable in February. […] We will have to see the evolution of the restrictions and we will see in due course. ”