The family-run firm, which went into administration in June, is subject to two offers – one from British bank Barclays, and another from a consortium of agri-businesses, which includes oilseed producer Sofiproteol. The Barclays proposal entails the bank writing off debts and purchasing an 80% share in the business, which would allow the family owners to keep the company operational. However, Sofiproteol and its associates intend to divide the business up.
On 1 August, the court ordered the company’s fresh poultry operation to be liquidated and requested final bids by 10 August, ahead of a final decision, which is due on 9 October.
In June, Groupe Doux went into administration with debts of around €140m. It obtained a judicial reorganisation procedure from the Commercial Court in Quimper, in north-west France, and embarked on a plan to aid strategic suppliers and breeders.
Speaking in June, Jean-Charles Doux, group managing director, said: “By being placed under the receivership ordered by the Commercial Court of Quimper, Groupe Doux has opted for security. The refinancing plans that have been proposed were based on short-term solutions that did not offer sufficient guarantees on the continuity and preservation of the historical regional interests of the group.”
The group is one of France’s largest poultry producers and recorded a turnover of €850m in 2011. It has 12 production sites in France, four hatcheries and feed factories, and slaughters around one million birds per day. It employs around 3,400 people and its brands include Soft and Père Dodu.
A spokesman for the administrators, FTI Consulting, called this development an important step: “This is a milestone which enables us to prepare a plan calmly to continue the export clusters with our partners, Barclays and Almunajem. We will first expand this partnership to certain creditors who have expressed interest and then to French industrial groups. On both these sectors, our plan protects jobs, ensures the company is not dismantled, and consolidates hatching, breeding and transportation."
He added that FTI Consulting would also work closely with government on the costs.
He said: “We believe that following the observation period, we will be able to unite both public authorities and stakeholders in order to sustain the group.”