EthiFinance Ratings reaffirms its SR2 short-term rating to the NEU CP instrument of ITM Entreprises (a subsidiary of Groupement Les Mousquetaires)

Rating rationale

EthiFinance Ratings has analysed the credit profile of ITM Entreprises in order to assign its short-term rating. The outcome is an SR2 short-term rating.

Credit profile

Les Mousquetaires is the third-largest food retail group in France. It operates a franchisee business model, with the group in charge of upstream activities (wholesale, purchasing & logistics) while downstream (the running of local stores) is not part of the consolidated scope and is operated by local entrepreneurs, “the associates”. Our rating applies to the upstream operations. The group is ultimately owned by around half of its associates. It has diversified towards Belgium, Poland and Portugal in terms of geography and, in terms of activities, towards do-it-yourself (DIY) and mobility. However, French food retail & food processing are its main activities. The food retail activity focuses on supermarkets, with a significant rural positioning and with a physical presence on average each 17km in France. The group benefits from good price positioning which is made possible by, among other factors, its vertical diversification in food processing. The group has been strengthening its share of the French food retail market, reaching 15.7% at the end of March 2022 from 14% in early 2017.

The rating is underpinned by resilient demand, the group’s competitive position with a solid and growing market share, and its good positioning with low dependence on the poorly performing large hypermarkets, which are characterized by significant non-food products. We view the current high inflation as a manageable risk for food retailers even though it may put margins under pressure until the situation normalizes. The rating is further strengthened by a lean structure, with associates committed to and rewarded for running well their local businesses, and who are involved in the management of the group. However, we note that the governance is less transparent than usual standards in listed companies of this size.

The group posted a solid financial performance in 2021, with EBITDA growing by a mid-single-digit rate. Free cash-flow was positive – both before and after working capital variation. EthiFinance Ratings’ net adjusted debt-to-EBITDA ratio improved significantly, decreasing to 2.2x (FY21) from 2.8x (FY20) and 3.2x (FY19). EthiFinance Ratings’ adjusted net debt is very close to the reported figure with minor adjustments being made for employee benefits and no adjustment for operating leases, given their minor relevance. The financial indebtedness of the group is the result of significant investments made in real estate, including at the logistical centres. For its covenant calculation, the group disclosed a net corporate-debt-to-EBITDA ratio (excluding the property’s net debt and EBITDA) of 0.56x as of end-2021 (down by c. 0.25x compared with end-2020 or end-2019). In terms of LTV, our total net debt-to-real estate value decreased to 53% from 65% with c. 80% of the improvement stemming from the reduction in net debt and c. 20% from the increase in portfolio value (c. €3.5bn).

We expect some moderate deleveraging for the coming years, although the intensity of investments made in network development could slightly hamper this trend. The group has recently announced the acquisition of Mestdagh, a food retailer operating in Belgium. At this stage, based on the information provided, we do not expect any material impact on ITME’ short-term rating. At end 2021, Mestdagh operated 87 supermarkets and reported annual revenues of €694m.

Our methodologies used for this rating are available at:

https://files.qivalio.net/documents/compliance/short-term-methodology-04March2022.pdf
https://files.qivalio.net/documents/compliance/long-term-methodology-04March2022.pdf

Groupement Les Mousquetaires

With over 4,000 stores in Europe and revenues including fuel of €45.3bn in 2021, Le Groupement Les Mousquetaires (or “Les Mousquetaires”) is one of Europe’s leading retail groups. Founded in 1969, Les Mousquetaires gathers together over 3,000 independent entrepreneurships and numbers around 150,000 employees. The brands operated by Les Mousquetaires are: Intermarché & Netto (food); Bricomarché, Brico Cash, Bricorama & BricoPrivé (Do It Yourself); Roady & Rapid Pare-Brise (mobility). Les Mousquetaires is the sixth-largest food processor in France with 59 industrial sites. It has its own logistic and property companies. In addition to France, Les Mousquetaires is present in Belgium, Poland and Portugal.

EthiFinance

EthiFinance is an innovative European rating, research and advisory group serving sustainable nance and sustainable development. It provides investors, companies and organizations with solutions to the challenges of nancing as well as environmental and societal transformation. Created in 2017, EthiFinance is the result of the merger between Spread Research and EthiFinance, French financial and extra-financial rating agencies both founded in 2004. EthiFinance provides its services to a wide range of leading international clients under the brands Spread Research (independent credit research), EthiFinance Ratings (credit rating agency), EthiFinance Analytics (Risk Modelling), and EthiFinance (extra-financial rating and advisory agency).

EthiFinance operates as a credit rating agency registered with and regulated by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) since July 2013, and as an External Credit Assessment Institution (ECAI). Our ratings are recognized by the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and can be used for the internal calculation and models of banks and insurance companies. Under the EthiFinance Ratings brand, EthiFinance provides nancial analysis, assigns credit ratings for issuers, and provides credit opinions for nancial operations (particularly for private debt funding operations or for the purpose of accounting/tax documentation). EthiFinance is one of the rating agencies authorized by the Banque de France to rate NEU CP and NEU MTN programs.

Our full report is available at:

https://www.ethifinance.com/en/ratings

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