Monday 27 September 2021

If At First You Don’t Succeed…New Attempt to Sell Supermarket Chain

Gessa continues in its attempt to divest itself of its business after the failed attempt to sell to Walmart

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Almost a year after Walmart’s attempt to acquire Grupo Gessa’s supermarket chain in Costa Rica was not approved by government regulators, a new agreement is now announced between Grupo Gessa and Grupo Empresarial de Retail SA, which belongs to the Yan family of Chinese origin.

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In January of this year, it was reported that local authorities ratified their ruling against Walmart’s request to buy supermarket chain Gessa –  Perimercados, Súper Compro, Turribásicos and Saretto – arguing that the transaction presented problems of eventual concentration.

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Walmart, besides the superstores under the brand, also owns and operates the Masxmenos, MaxiPalí and Palí chain of supermarkets in Costa Rica.

The new attempt by Grupo Empresarial de Supermercados SA (Gessa) requires the approval of the Comisión para Promover la Competencia (Coprocom) – Commission to Promote Competition.

La Nacion reported the agreement of sale was communicated to supermarket suppliers on Wednesday (December 11) evening that it had presented the Coprocomm the approval request that same day.

Thursday (December 12) afternoon, the advisory firm Grant Thornton reported that it served as a consultant in the process of the sale. In a statement, Thornton added that Gessa’s 1,200 employees will keep their jobs, and that current suppliers and providers would be maintained.

Through a press representative, the president of Comeca (owner of Gessa), Víctor Mesalles, indicated that he would not refer to the dale until he received pronouncement from Coprocom.

Nor was it possible to know the amount of the transaction.

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Without giving details, Mesalles informed suppliers that “… The Yan family has a business trajectory of more than 50 years in Costa Rica, as it has been dedicated to the export of wood and fruit and the import of products in general.”

Despite a tradition by authorities to provide details of applications, Coprocom confirmed to the Q that there is an open process and it has 15 business days to verify compliance with the formal requirements.

If the sale is approved, Grupo Comeca would manage to part with a business (52 supermarkets) in which it decided to divest approximately four years ago and from which it was close to saying goodbye at the end of last year upon reaching an agreement with Walmart.

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