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France's ITM Exits German Grocery Market

The French distribution giant ITM Enterprises is withdrawing from the German market by selling the wholesaler Spar and the discount supermarket chain Netto to German firm Edeka, Edeka announced on Thursday. At the same time, ITM, Edeka and Eroski would join forces to create Europe's biggest food distribution group, Edeka said in a statement. Edeka, which has annual sales of just over 31 billion euros ($40 billion) and a workforce of 200,000 worldwide, said it was acquiring all of loss-making Spar-Handels AG, as well as the Netto supermarket chain for an undisclosed sum. The deal marks the withdrawal of ITM Entreprises from the German market. It entered the market in 1997 when it acquired Spar. Since then, the French giant has unsuccessfully spent around one billion euros trying to turn Spar around. Spar, suffering from the ferocious competition of big discounters such as Aldi and Lidl and sluggish consumer demand, booked a net loss of 47 million euros last year. With the acquisition of Spar, Edeka will see its sales increase by just under seven billion euros to around 38 billion euros. At the same time, ITM, Edeka and Eroski of Spain were "joining forces to create Europe's biggest food distribution group," Edeka said, without providing any further details.

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