Breaking News on Food Marketing and Retailing

Casino offloads Florida unit

06-Jun-2003

Related topics: Financial, Retail

Casino , the French supermarket group, has agreed to sell its Florida-based foodservice unit and stores to the US group Gordon Food Service for an undisclosed sum.

The unit, which is part of Casino's Smart & Final division in the US, will become part of the largest privately held foodservice distributor in North America, assuming a definitive agreement can be negotiated with GFS.

"By selling our Florida operations, Smart & Final will be able to focus its management and capital resources on its core West Coast operations," said Ross Roeder, Smart & Final's chairman and chief executive officer.

"Although our Florida business has great potential, in today's tough competitive environment it is critical to focus all of our company's resources where they will provide the highest possible return."

Roeder added that GFS was one of the few US companies which both operated a foodservice direct delivery business and owned its own stores, making it a perfect fit for the Florida unit.

Dan Gordon, GFS president and CEO, said: "Smart & Final's Florida businesses are a great fit with our existing operations and provide us a strategic entry into the Florida market, which historically has been one of the strongest foodservice markets in the United States."

Smart & Final will continue to operate its 242 stores for food and foodservice supplies and foodservice distribution companies located primarily in the western United States.

Like many European retailers, Casino has struggled to make money from its overseas businesses over the last year because of poor exchanges rates. But Smart & Final has continued to show solid growth throughout the year, and the decision to concentrate on the western US only should help the unit improve its position further this year.