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DIY retailer Brico up for sale, according to reports
DIY chain retailer Brico has reportedly been put up for sale by Dutch group Maxeda, which has commissioned investment bank Rothschild to sell its 138 Brico and 14 BricoPlanit stores in Belgium.
The news broke in L'Echo and De Tijd, but Maxeda itself has refused to confirm the move, adding: “We do not comment on rumours and speculation”.
In the wider Benelux region, Maxeda operates 344 shops with total annual sales of over €1.5 billion and some 6,700 employees, making it the number one retailer in Benelux.
L'Echo and De Tijd report that although the Brico sale concerns the whole group, it is likely to be carried out on a piecemeal basis.
In Belgium, 81 of the 138 Brico stores are run by franchisees, while the remainder - including the 14 BricoPlanit stores - are managed directly by Maxeda.
With sales of €808 million in 2022/23, Brico and BricoPlanit together control 40% of the Belgian DIY market.
Unions requested an extraordinary works council meeting in light of the news, at which management denied any intent to sell and claimed that the presence of Leroy Merlin managers in various shops in recent weeks is purely coincidental.
No union action is planned in the shops for the time being but staff are reportedly nevertheless worried.
Pierre-Alexandre Billiet, CEO of specialist retail magazine Gondola, said a sale was almost inevitable.
"Unofficially, Brico has been on the market for more than seven years," he said. "Every year, the Brico group loses a few percent of its market share."
Maxeda has been owned by financial investors GoldenTree and Ardian since 2015, with private equity giants KKR and Alpinvest also shareholders. It tried to unload Brico 10 years ago without success.