The positioning of Le Pain Quotidien as a luxury player in expensive locations has long weighed on the financial results of the bakery chain. The American and British subsidiaries in particular were the cause of the poor financial results. Due to the corona crisis and the lockdown measures, they did even more.
To prevent Le Pain Quotidien from sinking, chief shareholder Cobepa intervened last week. It took over the banking debts of Le Pain Quotidien, which according to the latest balance sheet amounted to 80 million euros. In addition, it developed a rescue plan in two parts: on the one hand the abandonment of the American and British activities and on the other hand, through a judicial agreement (the so-called WCO procedure), the launch of a smaller-scale ‘Pain Quotidien bis’.
But now there is also a surprising turn in the second part of the file. According to our information, which is confirmed by those involved, the investment funds M80 and Cobepa are making a joint, binding and unconditional offer for Brunchco21, the company above what should become ‘Le Pain Quotidien bis’.
That company will include Le Pain Quotidien Belgium and France – the stores under its own management – l’Atelier du Pain (the production workshop), the rights to the brand and the contracts with international franchisees, including in the US and the UK.
The deal is not yet complete. The court has yet to approve the binding and unconditional offer of M80 and Cobepa.
If the court approves the plan, M80 will acquire a majority stake in the new construction and Cobepa a “substantial” minority stake. In the ‘old’ Pain Quotidien, Cobepa owned 43 percent of the shares. The duo plan to invest several million euros in the relaunch of the bakery chain. That money will go to digitization and the development of online orders.
Le Pain Quotidien is not unknown to M80. Pieter Vermeersch, one of the partners of the young investment fund, spent eight years in the management of the bakery chain and ensured the international roll-out of the franchise. For a year (2015-2016) he also led the Belgian daughter of Le Pain Quotidien.
Founder and driving force
It seems unlikely that the current CEO Vincent Herbert will remain in the new construction. The new owners would like to keep Alain Coumont, the founder and driving force behind Le Pain Quotidien, on board.
The other shareholders of the ‘old Pain Quotidien’ were unable or unwilling to continue the adventure. They are left with shares in a company with only debts left – Cobepa is almost the only creditor. That company will be liquidated in due course. Read: they see their investment go up in smoke.
A few months before the reorganization, the shares were divided as follows. Cobepa owned 43 percent of the shares and the rest was owned by several entrepreneurs: the Josi family (Jean-Marie Laurent Josi is the CEO of Cobepa), Emiel Lathouwers (ex-AS Adventure), the duo Tony Vandewalle-Bart Van Vooren (ex-O’Neill Belgium) and Alain Coumont. Vincent Herbert also reportedly held a small stake.