Belgian multi-brand car retailer Cardoen bought by PSA
The widely known multi-brand car retailer Cardoen is going to be bought by the French retailer Aramisauto.com, for 70% owned by the PSA Group since 2016.
Cardoen is widely known in Belgium’s car sector. It was one of the first in Europe to put different brands in its showroom, supported by the new European competition rulings at the time. The retailer has a business model where margins are low but the cost structure is heavily controlled.
It has known a strong growth but not every initiative worked out well. The expansion into the Netherlands didn’t go well and Cardoen was too early trying to sell Chinese brands in Europe. The cars and the market weren’t ready for it yet.
Earlier than expected
In 2015 the Flemish private-equity player Kebek acquired 2/3rd of Cardoen, 1/3rd stayed in the hands of founder Karel Cardoen. But yesterday it became clear that both are going to sell their shares to Aramisauto.com.
“We didn’t think of selling so quickly”, explains Karel Cardoen, “Kebek wanted to stay for at least 4 to 7 years, but we were looking for possibilities in France and Aramisauto.com was interested in Belgium. We met several times and came fairly soon to an agreement.”
No details were given about the financial amount of the overtaking, but according to several sources its should be “several tens of millions of euros”.
The French retailer Aramisauto.com is much younger than Cardoen. It has been founded in 2001 by two Frenchmen, Nicolas Cartier and Guillaume Paoli. In 2016 70% of the company was bought by the PSA Group, the rest is still owned by the two founders.
With the support of PSA Aramisauto.com wants to become a major player in this specific market segment. It already did a Spanish acquisition last year and now it buys Cardoen. Within 5 years it aims to have a yearly turnover of 1 billion euro.
The aim of PSA behind these transactions is to be stronger in the second-hand market in France. As the margins in selling new cars are getting smaller, PSA wants to earn money with other selling formulas too, for example, by taking sales margins on second-hand cars.
Isn’t there a danger that Cardoen becomes an additional selling structure for PSA products? “No, we stay independent”, affirms Karel Cardoen, “for PSA Aramisauto.com is a purely financial operation. They don’t interfere with the management.”
The Cardoen management, led by Wim Vos, former CEO of mobility club VAB, stays and there will be no changes in personnel or working conditions. Even the expansion plans will be carried on. This year new showrooms in Geel, Charleroi and Liège (Belgium) will be opened.
Cardoen and Aramisauto.com are compatible because the latter is in the first place a player on the internet. “We started with the big supermarkets for cars and are now coming into the internet market”, explains Cardoen. “They are coming in the opposite direction, from e-commerce to (smaller) supermarkets with less choice and pure delivery.”
“We know our clients from our showrooms”, adds Cardoen, “they know them from the internet and their call centre. I think it’s a perfect match. We have plans to do IT development together, because of the importance of internet, but we go our own way.”
Karel Cardoen doesn’t exclude that he will stay on board after the takeover has been cleared by authorities, he will possibly be member of the board of the new French owner.