A group of investors comprising the Dankner, Borowitz and Rosen families will pay US$72m to South African retail giant Metro Cash and Carry, to acquire full ownership of Co-Op North Metro, which controls the Clubmarket supermarket chain, Israel’s third largest food chain. According to an analysis in Ha’aretz, the purchase is “another attempt to determine whether there is room for a third supermarket chain in Israel.” In recent years Clubmarket has experienced accumulated heavy losses.

The report notes that the Dankner and Borowitz families will each hold a 42.5% share of Co-Op North Metro, while the Rosen family will hold a 15% stake. In addition to its 68.5% stake in Clubmarket, Co-Op North Metro has full ownership of Mashbir Food and a 95% stake in the New-Pharm drugstores and April cosmetic chains.

Clubmarket operates 143 branches, with 219,000m2 square metres of store space. It recorded losses of NIS22m (US$5.1m) during the first half of 2001, following losses of NIS94m in 2000. Ellern Investments CEO Boaz Chechik, representing the Dankner family in the deal, was quoted as saying that the group was convinced that there was “more potential in trying to turn around the struggling Clubmarket than in investments in the two leading food retailers – SuperSol and Co-Op Blue Square.” He added that the supermarket chains in Israel have not yet realised their potential, as they account for only 55% of the food market, whereas supermarkets in the western world control between 75% and 90% of their markets.

By Aaron Priel, just-food.com correspondent