Reports said Maersk was “ready to strike” and sell Dansk stores “if the right buyer” was found

Reports said Maersk was “ready to strike” and sell Dansk stores “if the right buyer” was found

Dansk Supermarked owner Maersk Holding has denied reports the company is looking to divest the Danish supermarket chain.

A report by Danish newspaper Berlingske yesterday (25 October) claimed AP Moller-Maersk Group, was looking to offload retailer Dansk Supermarked, which operates the Netto, Bilka and Føtex chains.

The publication said Maersk was "ready to strike" and sell Dansk stores "if the right buyer" was found, in a bid to "streamline" the group and "release capital for investment".

A spokesperson for Maersk, however, told just-food today that "external assumptions" have often been made about the retail chain, given how "different" it is from the group's other activities.

However, she said articles alluding to any "changes or announcements" in relation to the group's support for Dansk are "misleading".

"[The] facts are that since the partnership between A.P. Møller - Mærsk and Herman Salling began, the company has developed into an independent and strong Danish retailer. We fully support the new management team and the restructuring process they have launched, and we look forward to continuing the close cooperation with The Salling Foundations and Dansk Supermarked's management in order to further develop the business and continue the investments in its international expansion as an independent Danish based company."

The spokesperson added that Dansk Supermarked has, in recent years, achieved "solid" progress and that Mærsk "agrees" with Dansk Supermarked's strategy as "an important and leading retailer in Denmark".

"It is clear in the group's latest interim report and it was repeated on Capital Markets Day, that there is no change of course."

It is not the first time Dansk has been rumoured for a potential sale. Last year, Maersk was reportedly forced to downplay rumours it was trying to sell the group, as well as its shares in Danske Bank.

In the group's second quarter in August, Dansk sales were up 3.7% to DKK14.1bn. However, the sales were boosted primarily by increased traffic to its Netto discount stores. The retailer did not break out figures per format.

Speaking at the World Retail Congress in Paris earlier this month, CEO Per Bank admitted to delegates that there was "still a lot to do" as part of its transformation plan to turn the business around and improve the performance of its hypermarkets.

Last year, the Danish grocer launched a strategy that included reinvesting in price, investing in new loyalty programmes, strengthening management functions and improving its hypermarket formats.

While the plan has not yet been fully implemented since its launch 18 months ago, Bank said: "There is still a lot we can do much much better than we do currently but we do think we've accomplished a lot in a short time."

Dansk Supermarked has been part of the Maersk Group since 1964. In addition to the three supermarket chains, it also runs the Aarhus-based Salling department stores.