Mexican retailer buys Smart & Final for $620 million

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COMMERCE, Calif. — The investment group owners of Smart & Final Holdings Inc. have agreed to sell the grocery chain to Bodega Latina Corp. (BLC), a subsidiary of Mexico City-based Grupo Comercial Chedraui, which announced the deal last week.

Smart & Final’s owners — funds managed by affiliates of private equity firm Apollo Global Management — will receive about $620 million for chain’s 256 warehouse-style grocery stores in California, Arizona and Nevada. Another 16 Smart & Final stores in northern Mexico are owned and run with a joint venture partner.

The new owners are also assuming some of the chain’s debt. Apollo Group acquired Smart & Final two years ago in a leveraged buyout valued at more than $1 billion.

Under terms of the new deal, Smart & Final will retain its existing operations and management team, led by chief executive officer David Hirz. Smart & Final had revenue of $4.1 billion in the fiscal year ended January 3. The company reported a profit of $167 million on those sales. Smart & Final stores cater to households (70% of the sales) and business customers.

“Smart & Final, with a unique go-to-market and operating strategy, is an attractive fit that is aligned with our business strategy in the United States, utilizing differentiated formats to focus on growing, but underserved markets,” said Carlos Smith, president and CEO of BLC. “With a brand that resonates with consumers, geographic fit in key markets, and a consistent record of profitable growth, Smart & Final will complement the platform we’ve built with El Super and Fiesta. We look forward to welcoming Smart & Final’s talented team of over 11,000 employees in working together to create a premier food retail platform in our markets.”

Said Hirz, “The transaction is a testament to the strength of Smart & Final’s franchise, the quality of our store banners and the talent and expertise that support the business. Under the ownership of Grupo Comercial Chedraui and Bodega Latina, Smart & Final will benefit from their guidance, given their recognized and established position in the food retail space, while contributing our own best practices and experience. Together, we will further accelerate our collective growth. We are excited about the future as we embark on a new chapter in our history with a partner that is aligned and understands our strengths, culture and customer-centric philosophy.”

Grupo Comercial Chedraui owns and operates supermarkets and hypermarkets in Mexico and the United States. “This acquisition is aligned with our long-term strategy to find financially attractive and accretive opportunities, while maintaining consolidated indebtedness at prudent ranges,” said José Antonio Chedraui Eguía, CEO of Chedraui, “With financing for the transaction occurring at the BLC level, GCC retains ample financial flexibility for continued growth in Mexico as well.”


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