Retail in brief | Walmart/Asda, Phoenix

Retail in brief | Walmart/Asda, Phoenix

7 October 2020 - Deborah Wilkes

Walmart has found a buyer for Asda, while Phoenix has hired a chief information officer from Lufthansa and released financial results.

Walmart finds buyer for Asda

US-based retailer Walmart has agreed to sell Asda to the Issa Brothers and private-equity firm TDR Capital in a deal that gives the UK retail business an enterprise value of GBP6.80 billion (USD8.89 billion) on a debt-free and cash-free basis.

Under the new ownership structure, Zuber and Mohsin Issa and TDR Capital will acquire a majority stake in Asda. Walmart will retain an equity investment in the business, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board.

The Issa brothers are founders and joint chief executive officers of EG Group, a global convenience and forecourts retailer with headquarters in Blackburn, UK.

The new British owners plan to build on Asda’s “low-price heritage”.

Asda will continue to be led by chief executive officer Roger Burnley.

Founded in 1949, Asda has 584 grocery stores, 18 standalone petrol filling stations and 33 Asda Living Stores in the UK, as well as an online operation. The company has around 225 in-store pharmacies.

Phoenix recruits from Lufthansa

Germany’s Phoenix has recruited Lufthansa’s Roland Schütz to fill the newly-created position of chief information officer.

The wholesaler and retailer said Schütz would be a member of an enlarged Executive Board which would include a new IT and Digitalisation function.

Schütz will join Phoenix at the start of 2021 from Lufthansa where he has worked for 15 years, most recently as chief information officer.

Commenting on the appointment of Schütz, Sven Seidel, chief executive officer of Phoenix, said his “comprehensive IT expertise and awareness of the importance of seamless customer experience” would help Phoenix accelerate its digital transformation.

Bernd Scheifele, chairman of the Supervisory Board, said Phoenix had gained an “expert of international repute in this field, with many years of experience in one of the largest German companies”.

Latest financial results from Phoenix

Germany’s Phoenix reported sales up by 4.9% to EUR14.0 billion (USD16.5 billion) in the six months ended 31 July 2020. The wholesaler and retailer said there had been “increased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the first quarter”.

After adjusting for currency translations, the rise was 5.8% compared to the same period a year earlier.

Phoenix said its total operating performance – comprising sales and handling for service charge – had risen by 4.9% to EUR17.8 billion. Adjusted for currency translations, the rise was 5.8%.

Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) rose by 11.8% to EUR324 million.

The company’s retail business operates more than 2,700 of its own pharmacies in 14 countries. Around 1,500 of these operate under the BENU brand.

The pharmaceutical wholesale business has 161 distribution centres in 27 European countries.

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