Casino To Pursue Asset Sales To Help Cut Debt
French retailer Casino, battling investor concerns over its high debt, has vowed sell off more assets under a three-year strategy plan.
Investors initially welcomed the plan before some concerns over Casino's cash flow weighed on Casino's shares.
The company, which had its credit rating cut to junk by Standard & Poor's in March 2016, has embarked upon asset sales to reduce its debt and ease concerns over the financial position of both Casino and its parent holding company Rallye.
It has been selling off real estate and loss-making stores.
The latest plan focuses on profit growth by monetising client data, savings from purchasing deals and a greater focus on e-commerce, organic food, convenience stores and energy services.
Casino targets 10% growth per year in trading profit for its French retail business between 2019 and 2021, and the generation €500 million in free cash flow per year.
In 2018, Casino generated €229 million in free cash flow before taking into account its disposal plans.
Casino shares were down 2.2% in mid-session trading, although the stock remains up by around 22% so far in 2019, having fallen 28% last year.
"Overall the publication is rather positive but cash generation slightly disappointed the market," said fund manager Gregoire Laverne at Roche Brune Asset Management.
Casino has a joint purchasing alliance with Auchan, German retailer Metro and France's Schiever.
It is also expanding its online offering through a deal to use UK online retailer Ocado's platform, while its Monoprix supermarket arm has also become the first French retailer to agree to sell groceries via Amazon.
Those two partnerships are expected to help generate revenue of €1 billion from the sale of groceries online, up from 300 million at present.
It has also been looking to diversify revenue sources away from its core retail business in recent years.
Casino is already making money from data it holds through its 'relevanC' and '3WRegie' units and handles power and energy sales via its GreenYellow and Cdiscount Energie units.