French distribution market consolidates

Posted in France on Tuesday, 19 August 2014. Print

Last June, the French distribution market was surprised by the news that le Mobilier Européen was placed under a French judicial procedure called “procédure de sauvegarde” or safeguard procedure. This procedure means that a company is not insolvent but meets difficulties which it is not capable of overcoming. This procedure is intended to facilitate the reorganisation of the company in order to favor the pursuit of economic activity, preserve employment and settle liabilities.

French distribution market consolidates

Created in 1969 by the Alsatians Pierre and Paul Rapp, le Mobilier Européen owns the brands Fly, Atlas and Crozatier, has 2 150 employees and combines own stores and franchisees. It is ranked number four among French actors of furniture distribution and number one as for family groups.

A first change occured last December, when Conforama - which belongs to the South African group Steinhoff - and le Mobilier Européen announced the merging of their supply and logistics activities: thanks to this agreement, the new entity gained a 21% market share and became number one in furnishing distribution in France, ahead of Ikea.

With this judicial procedure, the group is now able to reassure employees and customers; stores will continue to work. Le Mobilier européen has informed that bidders could submit proposals until September 15th, and that “many actors” were interested. In the same time, about ten stores Atlas are going to adopt the brand Conforama, whereas some sale outlets Fly will become Confo Dépôt or Confo Déco. Conforama had acquired Fly Suisse which counts a network of 19 stores: these are to become either Conforama or Lipo, another brand belonging to Steinhoff. 
This event confirms the division of the French furnishing distribution into two very different groups: 
- The mass-market furniture distribution, which includes home equipment and the young housing environment (including the brands of le Mobilier Européen), with a market share around 60 %; 
- The furnishing specialists, general practitioners or specialized in one or several product lines (bedding, kitchen, etc.).


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