Why the Sodexo group has-t-he swallowed the start up FoodChéri?

This will not be the biggest company takeover of the year, the amount of the transaction has not been disclosed but should not exceed 16 million euros. On the other hand, it is a first in more ways than one. First, because it is the first financial transaction conducted and announced by the new director general of Sodexo, Denis Machuel, who has just taken up her functions at the head of the French giant of the catering, replacing Michel Landel, retired. “Denis Machuel was then in charge of digital activities of Sodexo when we took a breakfast together early 2017, reveals Patrick Asdaghi, co-founder and CEO of FoodChéri. There was no question of redemption during this first exchange, as we had already formed around the table, but we had explored possible partnerships”. Explorations more than fruitful, which is reflected today by “a majority holding of Sodexo”.

The operation is also a first because there had not been, hitherto, in France, of redemption by a historical giant of a start-up of the sector is in full boom of the foodtech. In addition to-Atlantic, in contrast, Flat Aid was bought last year by the stores Albertson, and already, Sodexo has absorbed the EAT Club. Several nuggets, including the delivery of meals at home, have benefited, however, from the arrival of investment funds. Starting with the competitor Frichti, which has raised € 30 million last spring, and whose economic model is very close to FoodChéri.

Control of margins

Unlike services such as AlloResto, Deliveroo and Uber Eats that deliver meals prepared by a selection of neighborhood restaurants, FoodChéri as Frichti has a central kitchen that designs and develops the dishes to their card. “This model allows us to control margins and reducing the cost of material and selecting raw products, tracks, and quality,” explains Patrick Asdaghi. In order to maximize its profitability, in the start-up gourmet selects its suppliers, without going through the market of Rungis, and offers a selection stamped organic farming or integrated farming to 70%. If the business of efficient delivery of dishes of restaurants is to simplify the meal, the one that claims FoodChéri is rather to simplify the well-eating. “Chicken in milk & lemon, roasted potatoes and green salad, Simmered veal, carrot, parsnip & sweet potato…” are proposed, among others, among a dozen of original recipes that put the action on a healthy diet and greedy. “Following a trend amongst our customers, we offer more dishes without meat,” says Patrick Asdaghi.

The business is still young, and the opinion of experts, the profitability is still tenuous, but with the support of a shareholder as powerful as Sodexo, the company will be able to make the investments that will enable it to achieve faster-than-expected to its point of balance. Already, a new central kitchen of over 2000 square meters will be created in the South of Paris, in replacement of the current 500 square meters in Montreuil. FoodChéri intends to extend its radius of action in the paris region before attacking the cities of Lille and Lyon, building on the expanding market for lunch, for employees of small and medium-sized enterprises.

The business of small businesses

Sodexo already covers perfectly, it is his first business, the market for corporate restaurants. The group, founded by Pierre Bellon has also guest in the meals of the employees who eat lunch in the city, editing and distributing cheques and cards Pass restaurant. With the acquisition of FoodChéri, Sodexo puts the hand on a party, still poorly organised in this sector of activity, the lunch of the employees of the start-ups, VSES and SMES, these companies are often in the service sector, is too small to have a board committee or, a fortiori, there is a canteen where we have lunch often on the go but where we want, nonetheless, a quality power supply.

“We deliver to individual customers but are relying more and more on large accounts by discussing directly with the directorates of human resources, or groups of employees,” explains the boss of FoodChéri which already Ubisoft (1.500 employees) or the subsidiary of Sodexo Manger Attitude among its major clients. With the support of the sales teams of Sodexo, who already know perfectly the relevant services (HR, purchasing, and committees of companies) in the French companies, the rise of FoodChéri will be made easier. Last info, Patrick Asdaghi, the chief executive officer and co-founder, entrepreneur filled which had already been among the shareholders of The Fork, when this other nugget French had been absorbed by the american Trip Advisor, is committed to stay a minimum of three years at the head of FoodChéri.

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