Daily Mail: Sainsbury’s snaps up Argos in £1.3bn deal: Takeover hopes to make both businesses compete with online retailers... but will see 200 stores close across Britain

Posted by Daily Mail on 3rd Feb 2016

Sainsbury’s has struck a £1.3billion deal to buy Argos owner Home Retail Group that will see it close around 200 shops across Britain.

The takeover is an attempt to compete with online rivals such as US giant Amazon and help both businesses compete on the High Street.

The deal will mean shoppers will be able to buy Argos products in Sainsbury’s shops and the supermarket’s customers will have access to Argos’ four-hour time slots for home deliveries.

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe said the takeover will create the ‘largest non-food’ retailer in the country with more than 2000 shops selling 100,000 non-food products with more than 25 million customers.

Argos’ online and mail-order customers will also be able to click ’n’ collect to buy their kettles and bikes from Sainsbury’s stores.

Sainsbury’s has 600 supermarkets and 750 convenience stores while there are more than 800 Argos stores. Argos has already been trialling outlets in Sainsbury’s supermarkets and the deal will see more concessions open in the grocer.

Mr Coupe described the takeover as baking a bigger cake to create a better and larger business for customers.

However one investment manager described it as two struggling retailers ‘propping each other up.’

Sainsbury’s first made an offer in November that was rejected, and it was fourth time lucky yesterday when its increased offer was finally accepted.

Sainsbury’s, like other supermarkets, has seen its market share eroded by discount retailers such as Lidl and Aldi, the rise of online shopping and the shift to people shopping little and often rather than large weekly shops. Argos has also been struggling in the face of competition from the likes of Amazon.

The deal has raised fears it will mean struggling High Streets are hit with even more empty shops.

Many of the leases of Argos’ stores are up for renewal in the next five years and between 150 and 200 shops could be closed and moved into a nearby Sainsbury’s.

One shopping centre landlord, Mark Robinson, joint-founder of property company Ellandi which owns more than 20 shopping centres, said: ‘Argos/Sainsbury going through is not great for many town centres across the country. However it MIGHT create world class omni-channel champion IF executed perfectly.’

Sainsbury’s trumpeted the clever way it had financed the deal.

Although the Sainsbury’s transaction values Home Retail at £1.3billion, Sainsbury’s claims it is actually buying Argos for a mere £250million.

The deal sees it inherit a £600million Argos loan book – money owed to Argos. It will also benefit from the £250million of cash at Home Retail from the sale of Homebase - last month it sold the Homebase chain for £340million to Australia’s Wesfarmers.

The deal is not quite sealed – the two companies have agreed a three-week extension on yesterday’s takeover deadline in order to complete the due diligence on the offer.

Home Retail shareholders will own 12percent of Sainsbury’s when the deal goes through.

Sainsbury’s said it will save £120 million through ‘synergies’, including £60million from relocating Argos stores. However it will also lead to around £280million in extra costs.

Sainsbury’s shares rose 5.9p to 250.5p and Home Retail Group advanced 0.1p to 153p. 

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