Buffalo Grill is officially a candidate for the takeover of Courtepaille, placed in receivership at the end of July. While the potential buyers had until Monday evening to come forward, Jocelyn Olive, the general manager of the leader in table catering (360 restaurants for 600 million euros in turnover), submitted his offer shortly before noon. While waiting for the file to be examined by the commercial court on September 14, he detailed his project to us.
What's in your trade-in offer?
JOCELYN OLIVE. It is a marriage proposal between the two biggest brands on the market. It is number one who offers number two to work together but with respect for both brands. The idea is to build on the strength of Courtepaille and its management team by setting up a project similar to the one I have carried out at Buffalo Grill for two years and which has enabled the brand to be transformed. It is this know-how that we want to pass on to Courtepaille. We have the means to do so, to buy Courtepaille and invest heavily in it.
Concretely, what do you plan to do?
In our offer, we have included an investment plan of more than 80 million euros over a period of five years to which must be added 20 million in marketing and media expenses, or more than 100 million euros. This magnificent brand that is Courtepaille, which has a special place in the hearts of the French, needs this money to transform and reinvent itself. It is now in a situation similar to that of Buffalo Grill two years ago, namely an under-invested, under-modernized company. This investment is also accompanied by a social pillar because my conviction is that to succeed in a project, priority must be given to people, training and social dialogue.
How many restaurants and employees do you propose to keep?
We are proposing to preserve 85% of jobs, ie a little over 3,100 employees out of a total of 3,600, including franchisees, which is colossal. In detail, the acquisition scope thus includes 92 franchise contracts and 145 restaurants (out of 190) operated in branches. But our offer does not stop there since we will offer staff who have not taken over a reclassification at Buffalo Grill depending on the positions available. And since Buffalo Grill is doing very well at the moment, we have a large number of positions to fill, 170. In addition, we are also committed to giving them priority when rehiring.
The two brands would remain autonomous. How do you plan to manage this cohabitation?
I hear that the two brands are competing. But this is a lack of knowledge of the market. We have done marketing studies and it turns out that when our customers are unfaithful, they do not go to Courtepaille - but rather to McDonald's - and vice versa. The two brands have different positioning: Buffalo Grill is more family oriented, located in shopping areas and large consumption areas; Courtepaille attracts an older clientele and is installed on the main roads and in employment areas. There is a logic of complementarity between the two brands.
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With the health and economic crisis, does Buffalo Grill really have the shoulders to carry out this recovery project?
The group is the restaurant company in France with the soundest financial structure. For two reasons: already because we obtained a loan guaranteed by the State (PGE) of 65 million euros. But also because we have a strong shareholder, as he demonstrated during the coronavirus crisis. Result: today, at the end of the crisis, and after the EMP, our financial debt does not exceed twice our profitability when the catering market is probably at levels between 4 and 8 times. We therefore have the best financial health on the catering market in France. I would even say that we are probably the most credible group from a financial point of view for this marriage with Courtepaille.