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Following Lidl, Spar may take over CBA stores

Retail

Local supermarket chain CBA is likely to shrink on the Hungarian market, following the handover of several stores by owner László Baldauf to German discount chain Lidl. According to the latest information, Netherlands-headquartered Spar will be next in negotiations with Baldauf for the takeover of CBA outlets.

The Budapest Business Journal reported one year ago that the market share of locally owned supermarkets is shrinking, with 500 stores of CBA, Coop and Reál closed in the 2013-2015 period. This year several reports say that László Baldauf, the 76-year-old owner of CBA, plans to sell his stores, although he has repeatedly denied such intentions.

Nevertheless, on Tuesday the Hungarian Competition Authority (GVH) approved the sale of the operating rights of seven CBA stores to competitor Lidl. This means that Baldauf will still own the store spaces, but that they will continue operation under the Lidl brand, according to online news portal index.hu.

According to business news site portfolio.hu, Baldauf is in negotiations to sell the operating rights of further CBA stores, this time to the Spar chain. Baldauf is looking at selling several rural stores as a package, but the buyer is said to prefer to cherry-pick, as some areas have low purchasing power and renovation of the stores would be expensive.

Spar did not confirm inquiries as to whether it is negotiating with Baldauf. Not only Baldauf, but other CBA board members are also considering selling the operating rights of stores owned by them, according to reports. This is a delicate situation with the general elections closing in, portfolio.hu notes, since the government has put great efforts into strengthening local supermarket chains, often by severely limiting the business of multinationals such as Lidl, Spar, Auchan and others.

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