Notice of strike from December 5 to 31: the five Casino union organizations, “worried” about the future of the group due to the possible sale of new supermarkets and hypermarkets, synonymous for them with “cutting up”, have launched the general mobilization. This strike notice, which runs until December 31, “concerns all employees and managers of the Casino group”, declared in a joint press release on Friday the five organizations representing the group (FO, CGT, CFDT, UNSA, CFE-CGC) brought together as an inter-union organization.
It was decided due to the “lack of consideration” towards employees and their representatives, in relation to “the worrying situation regarding the future of the integrity of Casino” – which still had, at the end of 2022, 200,000 employees worldwide, including 50,000 in France under well-known brands such as Monoprix, Franprix or Pao de Acucar in Brazil.
Strangled by its debt, the group agreed with its creditors at the end of July for a very significant restructuring of its debt, accompanied by a change of shareholding with a takeover by the Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, the Frenchman Marc Ladreit of Lacharrière and the British fund Attestor.
The handover of the baton from the one who is still CEO and largest shareholder of the group, Jean-Charles Naouri, is planned for the first quarter of 2024. In the immediate future, a major day of mobilization was decided on Tuesday, December 5, at the group's headquarters in Saint-Etienne (Loire) as well as in Vitry-sur-Seine, in Val-de-Marne, where the Monoprix headquarters are located.
In the Loire, where the distribution group was born 125 years ago, the inter-union is calling for a mobilization which must begin with a gathering from 9 a.m. in front of the head office, where 2,000 people work and whose future is at the heart of concerns. A demonstration is then planned in the streets of Saint-Etienne up to the prefecture and town hall. Casino, founded by Geoffroy Guichard who gave his name to the AS Saint-Etienne football stadium, employs around 4,000 people in the Loire.
The mobilization is unprecedented because the unions fear “a carving up of the group”, since Casino said it was ready to study “shows of interest” from competitors for the takeover of hypermarkets and supermarkets not yet sold by the distributor . Despite the company's critical situation, its stores arouse desire in a very competitive sector where the acquisition of new points of sale makes it possible to increase its market share, a crucial factor in the balance of power with suppliers of the agro industry. The greater the market share, the less the manufacturer can do without supplying this player and the more inclined he is to grant him better sales conditions.
Serge Papin, director of Auchan International since January 2023, has officially confirmed a joint application with Intermarché for the takeover of the Casino stores. “Jobs are kept in the project” of Auchan and Intermarché, he affirmed, while qualifying: “there will perhaps be some logistical tools” included in the takeover offer, “but there It's mainly about stores. Intermarché already agreed with Casino a few months ago for the purchase of 119 stores, plus around sixty as an option.
Questioned by AFP about this offer, spokespersons for the inter-union expressed their anger. “The employees feel enormous disappointment” about the current management “which puts us in front of the wall,” declared Nathalie Devienne, believing that “in all of this, no one cares about the Casino employees.” “Personally, this inspires a strong disgust in me, the feeling of really being considered like a tin can,” lamented Jean Pastor of the CGT. The unions asked to meet the current management and the buyers.
Speaking to AFP, a spokesperson for the EP group of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky in France assured Tuesday that it was "committed to maintaining a headquarters in Saint-Étienne", assuring that the sale of stores "would in no way affect our desire to become the controlling shareholder of Casino and to invest in the development of the rest of the scope”, in particular Monoprix and Franprix.