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Metro wraps up acquisition of Jean Coutu Group

Canadian retailer now fields more than 1,300 food and drug locations

After gaining regulatory clearance last month, Metro Inc. has closed its $4.5 billion (Canadian) acquisition of Quebec drug chain Jean Coutu Group.

Montreal-based Metro said Friday that the addition of Jean Coutu Group, now a wholly owned subsidiary, makes it one of Canada’s largest food and drug retailers and distributors.

With annual sales of about $16 billion, the merged company operates or franchises more than 1,300 stores in Quebec and eastern Canada, including 600 supermarkets under such banners as Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics and nearly 700 drug stores under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners.

"We are very proud to have acquired Quebec's top player in the pharmacy sector,” Metro president and chief executive officer Eric La Flèche said in a statement. “The combined entity will develop the full potential of our two banners, Jean Coutu and Brunet, in order to strengthen our market presence and better meet consumers' needs. Together, we want to create a new retail leader offering consumers a food and pharmacy experience customized to their needs for years to come.”

Varennes, Quebec-based Jean Coutu Group will operate as a stand-alone division of Metro and continue to be led by its current president and CEO François Coutu. He and Jean Coutu Group director Michel Coutu on Friday were named to Metro’s board.

"We showcase popular major brands, known for their commitment to consumer health and well-being,” said François Coutu. “Our operational efficiency will enable us to implement systems and processes while ensuring that consumers receive high-quality, personalized service from our owner pharmacists."

Jean Coutu Group shareholders will hold an approximately 11% equity interest in Metro, and the Coutu family and its affiliated entities will have an 8% stake in the company. 

In approving the transaction, Canada’s Competition Bureau required Metro to divest 10 pharmacies in Quebec, including nine Brunet locations and one PJC Santé Beauté (Jean Coutu Group) store. Metro and Jean Coutu Group announced the merger deal in October.

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