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Douglas to Shed 38 French Doors

It’s a condition set by France’s competition authority for Douglas Group’s takeover of Nocibé perfumery chain.

PARIS — Germany’s Douglas Group has the green light to take over the Nocibé perfumery chain as long as the new entity sheds 38 of its doors in France, the country’s competition authority said Wednesday.

AI Perfume France SAS, which is indirectly held by Douglas Holding AG, the parent company of the Douglas Group and Douglas Perfumeries, signed the contract for the purchase in February. Its terms were not disclosed.

Together, Douglas and Nocibé were to have 625 stores, with about 4,000 employees. The union would represent the largest perfumery chain in France in terms of doors and the second largest on a sales basis.

Douglas currently operates 179 doors — either wholly owned or franchised — in France.

In October 2013, Douglas, which is owned by Advent International and the Kreke family, began negotiating with Nocibé’s owner, Charterhouse Capital Partners. The deal was delayed by an anticompetition inquiry, first started by the European Commission and then turned over to France’s competition authority in December 2013.

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On Wednesday, the authority said it had identified 32 zones in France where the new entity would command too strong a position — particularly in terms of pricing. Advent, it said, has agreed to shed 38 sales points in those areas, which count among them Montbéliard, Albi, Cherbourg and Cholet. It runs 13 of its own doors there. Advent is also to end the 25 franchise Douglas and Nocibé contracts it has in the zones and find alternate solutions for the retailers concerned.

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“These solutions will allow for a balanced competitive situation to be maintained by limiting Douglas’ position at a level inferior to 50 percent market share or by suppressing additional market share caused by the Nocibé acquisition,” according to the authority.

Advent cannot for the next 10 years acquire the stores that were ceded or have a direct or indirect influence over them. It is disallowed during the same period for Advent to conclude a franchise contract or an affiliation with those former franchises, as well.