Vietnamese retailer Saigon Co.op and Auchan Vietnam made a late-night announcement on Thursday, declaring an agreement on the hand-over and take-over of the latter’s business in the Southeast Asian country.
Roughly 40 days after its May 15 announcement of plans to exit Vietnam, France’s Auchan has found a partner who will take over its 18 brick-and-mortar stores and online activities – Saigon Co.op, the country’s biggest supermarket chain operator.
The agreement, which was reached after quick negotiation and discussion, marks the first time a Vietnamese supermarket chain has taken over a foreign retailer.
According to the agreement, Saigon Co.op will transform the 15 Auchan stores that have already closed in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and the southern province of Tay Ninh into its own brands - Co.opmart, Finelife, and Co.opXtra.
The three remaining Auchan locations in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7 and Tan Binh District will remain operational under the French brand until the 2020 Lunar New Year, which will begin next January.
Saigon Co.op’s deputy general director Nguyen Anh Duc emphasized that the agreement is not a merger or acquisition, but merely a cooperation agreement.
This means the Vietnamese company may consider closing some outlets among the 18 stores it takes from Auchan Vietnam.
Saigon Co.op will also look after Auchan’s e-commerce and online sectors.
The agreement took effect immediately after Thursday’s signing ceremony, according to Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Saigon) newspaper.
The two sides are committed to keeping the value of the deal undisclosed.
France-based Auchan Retail made its plans to sell the loss-making business in Vietnam public on May 15.
An Auchan Vietnam representative confirmed the exit plan to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper two days later, adding that low profits were the motivating factor behind the decision.
Auchan’s 18 outlets in Vietnam reportedly generated revenues of 45 million euros (US$50.4 million), using 1,000 employees to service the 10 billion purchases made at its outlets.