The French e-commerce giant Cdiscount opens its capital. Its parent company, Casino, announced on Tuesday 1is June, that Cnova, the company through which it owns the platform, « [envisageait] to carry out a private placement of new shares for an amount of approximately 300 million euros »Before the end of 2021, “Subject to market conditions”, accompanied, secondly, by an increase in the float on the Paris Stock Exchange (currently 1%). The distribution group has “The intention to remain the majority shareholder of the company”.
Casino announced on May 14 a similar transaction for GreenYellow, its subsidiary specializing in energy transition, which “Explores the possibility of an IPO to finance its growth ambitions”. Studied for several weeks, the arrival of new shareholders in Cdiscount is a way of bringing cash into the company, at a time when it hopes to benefit from the exponential development of online sales. The CEO of Casino, Jean-Charles Naouri, had bought from its founders, the Charle brothers, at the turn of the 2000s, this actor specializing in the sale of DVDs on the Internet, just a year after its creation – he then released 1 million francs in turnover – before acquiring the rest of the capital in 2011.
Within the scope of the supermarket group, Cdiscount had carte blanche for twenty years to scramble on prices against its Internet competitors and the group’s own stores, while the American giant Amazon fought over the service. to the client. In recent years, Cdiscount has lost money in order to gain customers. Especially popular outside the big cities, it is now number two in online commerce in France with 8% of the market, behind Amazon (22%). And its losses, still generated by significant technological investments, were reduced to 15.7 million euros in 2020 (against 61.6 million in 2019).
Possibility of logistics services
The explosion of online commerce led Cdiscount to develop, like other heavyweights of the Web, a marketplace activity in 2019, which aggregates articles from outside traders with its own ads. A component of online commerce considered by professionals to be much more profitable than direct sales, which immobilizes cash through inventory purchases. With a marketplace, profitability is no longer achieved through the margin of its sales, but with the commissions taken from its 13,000 merchants, and the services they buy to promote their ads. For each product sold, Cdiscount charges a commission of 12% to 13%.
Today, almost one in two purchases on Cdiscount comes from this marketplace. The battle is no longer being fought on its own prices; it is the merchants who fight among themselves. Cdiscount provides them with access to its 23 million unique visitors per month and the possibility of logistics services. In its accounts, the volume of business reached 4.2 billion euros in 2020, and its turnover, 2.2 billion euros. With operating profitability up 62.5% to € 133 million.
In other words, a fundraising of 300 million euros will accelerate the development of this marketplace activity, and market its turnkey platform (technology, products and logistics) to others. actors in France and internationally. The company plans to“Open offices abroad, recruit teams, and invest to make the platform connectable in almost one click”, explains Emmanuel Grenier, CEO of CDiscount. A new activity, called Octopia, already marketed to 518 sites in Europe, and for which Mr. Grenier is targeting 10,000 customers. This allows it to envisage a business volume of over 12 billion euros by 2025.
However, for Casino, the valuation that will be defined by the fundraising of its subsidiaries GreenYellow and Cdiscount is above all a means of gaining recognition for its stock market value in the financial markets. And to counter the attacks of investment funds to which it has been the object in recent years. They brought to light the significant indebtedness of several companies in the group and led Rallye, Foncière Euris, Finatis and Euris – the holding companies through which Mr. Naouri controls Casino – to enter into a safeguard procedure in May 2019. exits in February 2020 with asset disposals and debt rescheduling.