“The purchase of Clarel is only our first step in Spain. We are clearly open to more”

They spent six years searching and analyzing opportunities to land in Spain. And yet, the Trinity group He has achieved it with the most unexpected movement, with an almost lightning operation. The Colombian company – an industrial giant in its country of origin in the steel, coal and logistics sectors, among other businesses – managed to close in just four months after so many years of surveys. an agreement with Grupo Dia to take control of Clarel, its perfumery and drugstore chain with more than 1,000 stores in Spain and three logistics centers.

The distribution group Dia broke the agreement it had with the C2 Private Equity fund at the end of July for failure to comply with some of the agreed conditions. Investment banks then began offering the chain to Trinity; At the end of August the Colombian group already made a non-binding offer; and at the beginning of December both parties announced the operation with great fanfare, still pending authorization from the Spanish authorities. “The whole process was quick, efficient, very direct. We believe that in the first week of April we will have the authorizations and we will be disembarking,” he predicts. Omar González, president of Trinity, in a conversation with The Spanish Newspaperof the Prensa Ibérica group, in the group’s new offices in Madrid.

The operation is a work of financial goldsmithing: Trinity will pay a minimum of 11.5 million euros this year and an additional maximum of another 15 million in 2029, and It will also gradually pay a debt of another 18.7 million (the net impact will be 15.7 million) in three payments over the next six years. In the end, the maximum cost that the Colombian group will assume, conditional on a series of financial and business milestones, is 42.2 million (well below the 60 million agreed for the failed sale to the C2 fund).

“I have little doubt that this will be the final cost. The calculations are done very rigorously. The system is apparently complex, but involves paying with the appropriate financial instruments, at the right time and in the right amount“, summarizes González, who recognizes that part of the operation will be financed through leverage directly agreed with Dia.

There will be no revolution

Trinity’s plans for Clarel, a reference brand in the beauty and cleaning distribution business in the Spanish market, are not disruptive. The purchasing group, which is making its debut in the distribution business, guarantees the continuity of the management team and the nearly 3,200 employees of Clarel’s workforce, and will take time to learn about the sector and the operation of the company. before giving it a new boost. “First we are going to learn and understand the business, then we will give our opinion, and then we will build on what is already built.” Trinity’s intention is to soak up the ins and outs of the group for at least half a year and release at the end of this year a new strategic plan for the period 2025-2027.

Omar González, president of Trinity. Jose Luis Roca

A new roadmap that will foreseeably entail a reorganization of the chain of 1,000 stores spread throughout the country, with the closure of some establishments, the opening of others and the relocation of some points to find better locations. “It is necessary to study new locations, new markets. Clarel needs to be a leader in proximity. “We want to be closer to customers and that will possibly lead to new openings.” And being closer to customers also involves giving determined push to online sales, today residual in Clarel’s business, and for using big data and artificial intelligence tools to better profile the clientele.

Trinity anticipates that Clarel closed last year with growing numbers, with sales of around 340 million euros and a gross operating result (ebitda) of 10 million. Income that will remain stable this year and a profitability that will probably suffer due to the investment plan in renovations that the chain intends to develop to implement a new store concept progressively, according to the expectations of the new owner of the company.

Growing up in Spain

“The purchase of Clarel is only our first step in the Spanish market. In the next 12 or 24 months our focus will be only on Clarel. But our organization is clearly open to listening to more opportunities,” emphasizes González, who has dual Colombian and Spanish nationality and who from now on intends to distribute his residence equally between both countries during the year.

“Our heart, our mind and our eyes will be only on Clarel, now we don’t want to be distracted. When we feel that we are consolidated, that our position is solid, the company will participate in conversations. Obviously we are already starting to receive ideas, and the investment department is studying them. But We do not see the probability of unleashing one or a series of acquisitions in the short term”summarizes the executive.

Until now, Trinity concentrated almost entirely its activity in Colombia (accounting for more than 90% of the annual turnover of 650 million dollars [unos 600 millones de euros]) and had an incipient presence in Costa Rica and Canada. With the acquisition of Clarel, Spain will directly represent about a third of the corporation’s income and the aim is that the weight does not stop growing. “We hope that Spain represents no less than 50% of our turnover within three years,” she says.

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