The French competition authority has approved the purchase of 128 La Halle stores by the footwear retailer Chaussea on the condition that it sells four points of sale to guarantee consumer choice in four catchment areas.
The antitrust body, called Autorité de la Concurrence, noted that Chaussea operates stores selling entry-level footwear for men, women and children, primarily in France. It added that the 128 La Halle stores it plans to acquire are active in the same segment.
It estimates that the combined entity will have a market share of between 20-30 percent in its segment when taking into account only formal footwear. It pointed out that Chaussea and La Halle’s main competitors are the national footwear retailers Besson, Chauss’Expo, Gémo and Kiabi as well as major food retailers and regional footwear chains specializing in the sale of entry-level footwear, such as Chauss34 in the Hérault department and Pointure Plus in the Gironde department.
After examination, the competition authority ruled that in almost all of France consumers “will continue to benefit from alternative offerings to those of the new entity, which are equivalent in terms of price and product range.”
It however identified risks to competition in the towns of Dole, Lure, Manosque and Saint-Memmie which “could lead to price rises or a reduction in the diversity of the offering, to the detriment of consumers, in particular in view of the high combined market share of the parties.”
Chaussea has agreed to sell one Chaussea or La Halle store in each of these areas, to one or more competitors. Potential buyers will have to be approved by the competition watchdog to “ensure that they are able to provide a credible alternative in footwear retail distribution in each of the areas in question.”
La Halle, which was owned by the Vivarte group, was placed into safeguard procedure on April 21, 2020 to protect it from creditors. But, after having failed to find a buyer for the whole business, La Halle was placed into receivership to be sold piecemeal mid-2020.
On June 17, 2020, Chaussea notified the antitrust agency of its intention to proceed with the acquisition of the 128 stores. On June 26 of the same year, the watchdog granted a waiver to the retailer to proceed with the acquisition before its final ruling issued on May 20, 2021.
Meanwhile, Beaumanoir, a French fashion group that owns the brands Morgan, Cache Cache, Bréal, Bonobo and Vib’s, bought 366 La Halle stores. In March 2021, Autorité de la Concurrence authorized the deal without conditions. Chauss34 also bought 14 La Halle’s stores.
Thanks to the acquisitions, about 60 percent of La Halle’s 5,500 jobs are expected to be saved.