| PARIS, Sept 19
PARIS, Sept 19 French retailer Casino
and furniture chain Conforama, owned by South African group
Steinhoff, have forged a cooperation agreement to use
a combined 1.3 billion euros ($1.45 billion) of purchasing power
to boost efficiency.
The Mano purchasing venture, covering household appliances
from white goods to lighter electricals such as televisions and
computers, will be up and running by Dec. 1, ahead of annual
price negotiations with suppliers, officials from the two
businesses told Reuters.
The operation is expected to generate annual savings of 30
million euros in the medium term.
"Overall it's a response to the growing concentration among
suppliers and among our competitors," one Casino official said.
Casino, the credit rating of which was cut to junk status by
Standard & Poor's in March, is under pressure to show it can
make a sustained profit revival in France, its top market, at a
time of slower growth in Brazil.
In July it told investors it was on track to achieve its
full-year target of a rise in profit, helped by higher sales and
Casino already cooperates with non-listed French peer
Intermarche in purchasing for national food brands under a deal
sealed in 2014.
The new alliance comes after Conforama lost out to CD and
book retailer Fnac in a fierce takeover battle for
electronics goods group Darty.
Conforama has 203 stores in France and Casino 10,627. Casino
notably owns e-commerce discounter CDiscount, which makes 80
percent of its sales in non-food goods, as well as the Geant
hypermarkets, Monoprix and Casino supermarkets.
Casino shares were up 2.3 percent at 43.66 euros by 0953
GMT, outperforming a 1 percent gain for the European retail
sector as a whole.
($11 = 0.8964 euros)
(Editing by David Goodman)