Mr Bricolage plans acquisitions from 2013

PARIS (Reuters) – DIY retailer Mr Bricolage (MBRI.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) said it plans to make acquisitions from 2013 and predicted the fragmented French home-improvement market would consolidate around four major players.

Demand for DIY products in France has grown so far this year and Mr Bricolage’s sales improved during the first quarter, Chief Executive Jean-Francois Boucher told Reuters on Tuesday.

“The positive trend seen in 2010 is lasting,” he said in an interview. “We experienced some nice weather in March which is very positive.”

Mr Bricolage ranks as France’s third-largest home-improvement group after Adeo and Britain’s Kingfisher (KGF.L: Quote, Profile, Research), and ahead of Bricomarche and other groups such as Bricopro, BBJ and Espace Emeraude.

The company, which has some 650 stores, is due to publish first-quarter sales on May 4.

Boucher said Mr Bricolage would focus on debt reduction in the next two years and hold off on acquisitions until 2013 unless a major opportunity came along.

“We want to see our gearing ratio return to 65 percent by year-end and to around 50 percent by the end of 2012,” Boucher said, adding that the group was betting on real estate asset sales and sales growth to achieve this.

Mr Bricolage’s debt rocketed to 174 million euros ($252 million) last year after the 2009 purchase of retailer Les Briconautes, giving the company a gearing ratio of 77.4 percent.

“We want to be in a situation that allows us to study acquisitions from 2012 and be ready to act from 2013,” Boucher said. “We are aiming to widen the gap with our closest competitor Bricomarche.”

Boucher said that while there was currently a large number of players in the French market, there would only be room for four in the longer term, citing Adeo, Kingfisher, Mr Bricolage and Bricomarche.

($1=.6912 Euro)

(Reporting by Matthias Blamont and Florent Le Quintrec; Editing by James Regan)

Mr Bricolage plans acquisitions from 2013