Netherlands-based poultry processor Plukon Food Group has said its plans to grow the business in France will be “strengthened” by its acquisition of French peer Groupe Duc.

Plukon is to buy a 97% stake in Duc, with plans to then buy the remaining shares, under the terms of a deal announced yesterday (20 December).

Plukon CEO Peter Poortinga said today: “The acquisition of Duc enables Plukon Food Group to further implement its retail strategy in France as a national producer. The current growth plans in France are strengthened as a result of this acquisition.”

Plukon said in a statement the companies share “a strong focus on high quality, fresh products for the retail market”. “Both are working on new concepts to improve animal welfare and to reduce the use of antibiotics,” Plukon said. “The Duc product portfolio is a good addition to the product portfolio of Plukon Food Group. The new group will continue the cooperation with Duc’s poultry farmers and is open for further expansion.”

Duc, which has seen its sales come under pressure, has been in talks with Plukon and its major creditors in recent weeks to, it said, “ensure its financial stability”.

Plukon has pledged to invest at least EUR20m (US$20.8m) in Duc to increase its production and retain all employees for at least four years, with an average of 802 staff on a permanent contract.

The deal will also cover EUR13.5m of the debts owed by Duc to its major creditors.

Alongside the announcement of the deal with Plukon, Duc said it had seen its losses widen in the first half of its financial year. The group’s turnover, first reported in August, slid 7.2% to EUR85m. The company also presented unaudited data on its sales in its third quarter. Sales in the third quarter dropped 3.7% to EUR42.5m.

In 2015, Duc generated sales of EUR180.6m, down 2.5% on 2014. The company’s profitability improved although it still made an operating loss amid pressure on selling prices. Duc posted an operating loss of EUR1.4m for 2015, versus EUR2.6m a year earlier. It booked a net profit of EUR570,000 against a net loss of EUR3.8m a year ago.