OBI store in Kazan gets new owners

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, the OBI store in Kazan has finally come under the control of Russian GISK MAX. A new entry has been made in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities stating that the new owner of “Sdelay Svoimi Rukami— Kazan” PLC (the legal entity of the Kazan chain store) is the Group of investment and construction companies MAX PLC. 58% of the company's shares worth 104,4 million rubles were transferred to the latter. Another 42% belongs to OBI FC PLC, which until recently belonged to the German retailer, and is now also absorbed by GISK MAX.

Before the spring sanctions crisis, when the German retailer also announced its withdrawal from the Russian market after the rest of the Western companies, the shares of OBI network were evenly distributed between the German companies of the same name OBI GmbH, OBI AG and OBI Holding GmbH. Now all 100% of the authorised capital has been transferred to the group of investment and construction companies MAX in the amount of 334,4 million rubles.

OBI closed the deal to sell its Russian business for just 1 euro. On July 27, OBI GmbH signed an agreement with a group of Russian investors on the sale to them of six legal entities of the Russian DIY store chain OBI. According to its terms, at the first stage, 40% of the shares in these companies will go to the MAX group of investment and construction companies (GISK MAX), and 60% — to businessman Josef Liokumovich. After the transaction is completed, GISK MAX can sell its part of the business to “third parties” (but not necessarily). Liokumovich is considered a friend of the Haub family, which owns OBI GmH, and a representative of the Austrian Supernova group of companies, which specialises in managing shopping and entertainment centres in Central and Eastern Europe. Its portfolio includes about 60 such facilities in Austria, Germany, Poland, Romania, Croatia and other countries.

The owner and partner of GISK MAX, Oleg Kolobkov and Boris Lyuboshits, were attracted by the German company itself to manage assets before their sale in April 2022. The latter was to negotiate with creditors and draw up a plan to return the company to break-even, and it seems that by now he had managed to negotiate with the main suppliers and landlords and was able to agree on debt restructuring with 90% of counterparties. Despite the fact that claims for debts of 1 billion rubles have been filed against the chain of stores, and in order to return to normal operating activities, it will be necessary to additionally invest 4 billion rubles. As a result, some stores in the regions may be closed, but even then, for a couple of years, stores selling construction equipment will probably be unprofitable — already due to logistical problems.

The company that decided to purchase OBI specialises in the construction of fitness centres and spa complexes. MAX group of companies itself does not disclose its financial indicators, another company of Ilya Kolobkov, Samis, had revenue of 15,6 million rubles in 2021, net profit of 13,4 million rubles. Such indicators indicate that his business is not influential and more or less representative in the Russian market. It is obvious that such companies cannot formally have money to buy or money to invest (and banks will not give billions to little-known players just like that) — this is what caused the rumours about the subsequent resale.

The OBI store in Kazan reopened after closing in May, but now, according to Google, there is a low workload. All stores should eventually undergo the rebranding procedure, but it is not yet known when this will fully happen. Let us remind that Russian OBI stores opened in 2003 in the Moscow shopping centre Mega. Two years later, the hypermarket opened in Kazan, which became the third store of this DIY chain in the country. The total retail area of OBI in Kazan was 12 thousand square metres, and 1/3 of the area fell on an unusual at that time garden centre. Initially, OBI in Tatarstan worked under a franchise agreement between the companies OBI Russia and the local network Eurointerier by Marat Akhunov. In 2013, after the ruin of Eurointerier, the German DIY retailer decided to take the Kazan hypermarket under its full control, buying a 42% stake from local businessmen.

Only in November 2021, the Kazan OBI store, which had previously lived on the Mega areas, moved to the building they built opposite the megamarket at 141 Prospekt Pobedy, k. 2. The DIY zone has expanded in the new hypermarket, designer showrooms, separate places for working with business clients, as well as special pick-up and online order delivery zones appeared. The retail area of the new hypermarket was over 12,600 square metres, of which more than 4,000 square metres took the “Garden Centre”. OBI now has a private parking for 350 places and covered bike parking for 32 bicycles. Observers believed that the decision to move was made against the background of coronavirus restrictions, which included the closure of shopping centres: the retailer allegedly did not want to depend on the operating mode of Mega. Despite the fact that experts did not consider the store of the German OB chain to be a major player after the arrival of the stores of the new Megastroy and Leroy Merlin chains in Kazan, it still became a noticeable phenomenon.

According to SPARK, the total volume of OBI commodity stocks in the Russian Federation can be estimated at 9,8 billion rubles. The company has no other assets. Only one hypermarket is owned — the rest are leased. Moreover, the company's stores, as a rule, were located next to Megas, and after the closure of IKEA, they sank significantly in traffic. The German owners were so easily ready to part with the business, experts believe, because it generated losses: in 2021, the net loss of Russian legal entities amounted to 2,4 billion rubles, in 2020 — 2,1 billion rubles. And if chains that own stores can “tighten their belts” and work at a loss for a while, then OBI will have to pay off debts for renting space. “It's like selling the Titanic an hour before the sinking," the skeptics summarise.

Sergey Afanasyev