Netto sites up for grabs after Sainsbury’s axes partnership

Agents have been brought in to market Netto’s UK stores after Sainsbury’s pulled the plug on its partnership with the European chain earlier this month.

Wilkinson Williams and Colliers International have been instructed by Netto Limited - the joint venture between Sainsbury’s and Netto owner Dansk Supermarked Group - to sell or re-let 18 sites, and are inviting offers by 5 August.

The sites comprise 16 stores that were trading as Netto outlets and two plots that had been acquired but not developed. The freeholds are for sale on seven of the sites, while the remaining 11 would involve the leases being taken over. The units are all around 11,250 sq ft in area and located in the north of England.

Up to 300 jobs in the stores are believed to be at risk following Sainsbury’s exit from the venture, which was announced on 4 July, a week after fellow convenience chain My Local went into administration.

In a statement following the announcement, Sainsbury’s chief executive Mike Coupe blamed the decision on the “challenging” property market, saying that to be successful Netto “would need to grow at pace and scale, requiring significant investment and the rapid expansion of the store estate”.

Focused on Argos takeover

Sainsbury’s opened its first Netto store in November 2014 in a bid to reclaim market share from German discounters Aldi and Lidl.

It originally targeted retail parks for the chain and about half of the 16 stores are in retail parks.

The venture represented the second attempt to make a success of the Danish brand in the UK market. The first lasted 14 years and ended in 2010 when Asda paid £778m to buy the 195-store estate. The Walmart-owned chain had to offload 47 stores as part of the deal, and rebranded the rest as Asda Supermarket.

Sainsbury’s is now focused on its £1.4bn takeover of Argos. It plans to close some Argos stores and open concessions in Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

The Competition and Markets Authority is currently investigating the deal and has said it will decide whether to launch an inquiry by Monday (25 July).

All parties declined to comment.

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