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Owners of French supermarket giants Casino, Monoprix and Franprix file for bankruptcy protection

The parent company of the French grocery chain Casino insisted on Friday that there would be no consequences for one of the country's best-known supermarkets after filing for bankruptcy protection.

Owners of French supermarket giants Casino, Monoprix and Franprix file for bankruptcy protection
The parent company of Monoprix has filed for bankruptcy. Photo: AFP

Rallye, whose subsidiary Casino also owns top French high-street supermarket brands like Monoprix and Franprix, said late on Thursday that it had sought bankruptcy protection to reorganise its €3 billion-euro debt load.

Following trading suspensions the day earlier, Rallye shares lost over half their value on Friday morning, plunging 54 percent on the Paris stock exchange to trade at €3.50 before rebounding slightly.

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But Rallye said on Friday that Casino as well as sports chain Go Sport, which it also owns, “were not concerned” by the proceedings, which involved only the majority shareholder.

As a consequence, Casino shares surged by more than 16 percent on the Paris stock exchange to €32.52.

But since March, Casino shares are still down more than 30 percent.

Rallye, which said its debts amount to €2.9 billion, owns 51.7 percent of Casino, which is controlled through a complex holding structure by French businessman Jean-Charles Naouri. 

Rallye said that “following the persistent and massive speculative attacks” against Rallye shares, the bankruptcy protection would “ensure the integrity of the group and improve their debt profile in a stable environment.”

Shares in the group have tumbled in recent years as it became the target of short-sellers, who effectively bet the share price will fall, troubled by what analysts see as an opaque shareholder structure.

“It is key for the companies to have time to re-profile their debts within the secured framework of the safeguard proceeding,” Rallye said.

It said the safeguard proceedings would initially take six months, and potentially last as long as 18 months.

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SUPERMARKET

French supermarket boss found dead after being charged with bullying his staff

The boss of a Leclerc supermarket in eastern France has been found dead after he was charged with bullying members of his team.

French supermarket boss found dead after being charged with bullying his staff
Photo: AFP
The 58-year-old boss was found dead on Thursday in the French town of Belfort in the north eastern region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté after he had been charged with harassing his employees the previous Wednesday.
 
An investigation has been opened into the cause of death, local prosecutor Emmanuel Dupic confirmed to the French press. 
 
On Wednesday, the two owners, including the man found dead, of the Leclerc supermarket in the town of Héricourt and the commercial director had been charged with harassment against 25 employees.
 
A fourth person, the financial director, had been charged with complicity in psychological harassment.
 
According to local newspaper L'Est Républicain, the man was found dead after he had been released on bail. 
 
The owners and the commercial director of the store are suspected of “humiliating [staff members], threatening behavior and remarks that have led many employees to suffer from burn-out or take sick leave, allowing employers to declare them unfit for their positions and fire them,” said the local prosecutor. 
 
The situation came to light after an investigation took place in 2018 when 14 employees dismissed from this store filed a complaint with the police.
 
The investigation revealed that “significant moral harassment had been ongoing for nine years, with daily pressure on employees that led to physical and psychological distress”, according to the prosecutor.
 
Pregnant women and disabled staff were forced to carry out duties, including carrying heavy items, or work schedules unsuitable to their situations. 
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