April 24, 2020 / 10:29 AM / a month ago

German supermarket chain Rewe on lookout for M&A targets - report

FILE PHOTO: A staff member disinfects a shopping cart before each new customer at a Rewe grocery store in Potsdam, Germany, March 20, 2020, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German supermarket chain Rewe is looking for takeover candidates to complement its grocery and tourism activities, despite the coronavirus crisis, chief executive Lionel Souque said on Friday.

“We will look into all opportunities that are currently emerging for new partnerships and acquisitions,” he told weekly magazine Der Spiegel.

The company should not “panic and stop all investments in tourism and retailing,” he added.

The virus has been spreading rapidly in Germany, causing lockdowns and prompting hoarding by shoppers in recent weeks.

But Souque said the situation with stockpiling had normalised, and even gone into reverse in some European countries, where consumers were fearing for their jobs, or already had less money available.

While higher turnover - as people no longer eat out and spend more on staying at home - was positive, additional costs at Rewe for security, personnel and logistics would cost a “three-digit million euros” sum this year.

Rewe’s DER Touristik subsidiary, the retail company’s tourism arm, was in dire straits, facing hundreds of millions of euros in losses, Souque said.

However, Rewe would cope without calling for state aid, even if all bookings until year-end were cancelled, he said.

Last year, Rewe, second-biggest supermarket chain after Edeka, bought rival Lekkerland. Aside from DER Touristik, it also operates food discounters, DIY stores and e-commerce vendors.

Reporting by Vera Eckert; editing by Mark Potter

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