Agrifood processor and ag retailer La Coop federee is in talks with an Eastern Canada hardware store network toward an "eventual business relationship" in Quebec.
Coop federee and Groupe BMR, a chain of 187 home reno and hardware stores, announced Tuesday that "discussions are currently underway towards an eventual business relationship."
The talks are in an "active business context for Quebec distributors and retailers," specializing in agricultural machinery as well as hardware, renovation and gardening products, the two groups said in a release.
Both organizations said Tuesday they won't yet comment further on the talks -- except to say if a formal agreement is reached, the two sets of members, management and employees of both organizations and their affiliates will be the first to know.
That said, Jean Falardeau, vice-president of operations at BMR, was quoted Tuesday by Radio-Canada as saying the two groups could join forces to boost their buying power, but may also find some operational synergies.
Ben Marc Diendere, Coop federee's director of communications, was quoted in the same article as saying "time will tell" whether these talks will end in a friendly takeover.
Coop federee is already the biggest agrifood company in Quebec and was the world's 104th-biggest co-operative by revenue ($4.55 billion) in 2011. It also operates fuel company Sonic and meat packer Olymel.
The co-operative has also already carved out a share in Eastern Canada's hardware and farm machinery markets through its Unimat brand.
Through its distribution centre in Trois-Rivieres, it serves a network of over 175 Unimat and La Coop stores in Quebec, New Brunswick and Eastern Ontario, handling farm tools, farm and forestry machinery and maple syrup harvesting accessories, as well as retail hardware, construction and renovation materials and equipment and yard and gardening products.
Unimat, which booked total 2010 sales of $225 million, distributes to 175 outlets selling farm and forestry equipment and also sells ag equipment parts through about 200 outlets.
Boucherville-based Groupe BMR, meanwhile, connects home reno and hardware dealers in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, plus a store each in Charlottetown and on the French island of St-Pierre.
BMR (which stands for "building materials and renovation") began in 1967 as Union-six, a small purchasing group of Quebec lumber and building supply dealers, expanding into a network of "renovation centres" in 1996 and hardware distribution in 1997.
Now the second-biggest banner in Quebec's renovation sector, BMR reports total member sales of over $1.3 billion per year.
BMR in 2010 added a new product line, Agrizone, to cater to the farming market through 55 of its member stores, with offerings of over 2,000 products from farm hardware, work wear and footwear to dairy brushes and forestry equipment.
Coop federee buys into Agromart chain, Nov. 2, 2008
Coop federee buys Ont. grain merchandising firm, Aug. 31, 2011
Quebec's ag co-ops buy up Agrico Canada, Sept. 6, 2011