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EBRD €50 million loan to Polish wholesaler Eurocash

By Axel  Reiserer

Acquisition of online food retailer addresses shift in consumer behaviour.

  • EBRD €50 million loan to wholesaler Eurocash
  • Acquisition of online food retailer addresses shift in consumer behaviour
  • Expansion of vocational education and improved qualification standards

Polish customers will enjoy a wider choice of goods when shopping online thanks to the acquisition of full control over the food retailer by the leading wholesaler Eurocash S.A. with the help of a loan of up to €50 million provided by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The EBRD funds will also address Eurocash’s working capital needs, providing resilience to the company’s balance sheet. In its response to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic the EBRD has marked the provision of working capital financing as one of its priorities. The Bank now expects to commit the entirety of its 2020-21 investments of up to €21 billion to contribute to efforts to overcome the current crisis.

As part of the engagement with the EBRD, Eurocash also commits to provide new offers of vocational education and training as well as improved qualification standards in line with the plan of the Ministry of Education to bring the national vocational training curricula in the retail sector to EU standards.

The spread of the coronavirus and public health restrictions have led to a strong increase in online shopping; Polish customers have significantly and to a sizeable number changed their behaviour. Even after a gradual lifting of the current restrictions a continuation and deepening of online shopping is expected.

Eurocash, listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange, is one of the leading local cash and carry and wholesale operators in Poland. The group caters mainly to traditional retailers, the majority of which are small businesses. The acquisition of full control over Frisco S.A., the owner of the food retail platform, will allow the company to expand its business in existing and new segments. As of today, Eurocash holds approximately 44 per cent of shares in Frisco S.A.

Grzegorz Zieliński, EBRD Regional Director, Central Europe and the Baltic states, said: “This is a very timely development which we are pleased to support. The decision by Eurocash to completely team up with made a lot of sense already before the Covid-19 crisis and now has become truly compelling. It demonstrated how Polish companies are addressing not only today’s but also tomorrow’s challenges and the EBRD is proud to be part of this approach.”

Jacek Owczarek, Chief Financial Officer, Eurocash, added: “We are proud that the EBRD – the bank endorsing projects that support environmental and social sustainability of the economy - is one of the lenders of Eurocash. This is a sign that Eurocash has a power to transfer its fast growth into sustainable business. The investment into is another element of our strategy aimed at supporting independent trade in Poland through the development of innovative retail formats and technological solutions. Thanks to the acquisition of our group will be able to take advantage of the company's advanced know-how in online sales, which will allow us to develop this area for our clients – owners of independent retail stores.”

The EBRD started investing in Poland in 1991 and to date has provided €10.5 billion through 439 projects to all sectors of the economy.

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