On April 11, 2022, CEE Legal Matters reported that Jankovic Popovic Mitic had advised Gomex and the Seaf South Balkan Fund on the sale of Gomex to Ceecat Capital. CEE In-House Matters spoke with Goran Kovacevic, General Director at Gomex, to learn more about the sale.
CEEIHM: To start, tell us a few words about Gomex.
Kovacevic: Gomex is a retail chain of consumer goods with 2,500 employees at the moment. We mainly sell food products (88%) in stores with formats from 150 square meters to 500 square meters. We currently operate 212 stores and three distribution centers. Last year's turnover was around EUR 150 million. We mostly operate in the northern part of Serbia but we started expanding by opening another 70 stores in different locations in the country.
CEEIHM: What do you believe it was about Gomex that made it a particularly attractive target for the buyer?
Kovacevic: There are many different reasons. Globally, Serbia has become popular with foreign investors. Gomex works in an industry that has proven to be resilient to crisis situations such as COVID-19 or the current war in Ukraine. On the other hand, Gomex is a well-organized company with a built-in infrastructure for rapid expansion and with good experience in previous cooperation with the SEAF fund. And, finally, in Serbia, the so-called traditional trade is still present to a large extent, and that is Gomex's target market space.
CEEIHM: What are the next plans for the company now, post-acquisition?
Kovacevic: As I said, Gomex has built up the infrastructure and an organization that can support the opening of at least 150 more stores without significant additional investment. Therefore, the main direction of development will be organic expansion and potential acquisitions of smaller retail chains.
CEEIHM: What were the legal aspects of the deal that you would point to as the most complex?
Kovacevic: Probably the most complex part of the job was to reconcile two rather different legal systems. The funds prefer the English legal system, but all our business is conducted in accordance with local, Serbian legislation. Since this is a job that requires a lot of money, both parties (the CEECAT fund and I) had to precisely agree on every detail of the future cooperation. In the end, everything ended well, primarily due to the clear interests and willingness to compromise of both contractors.
CEEIHM: And why did you choose JPM to act as your advisor on the sale?
Kovacevic: JPM is a firm with extensive experience in this type of transaction and has a significant number of top lawyers who can cover every aspect of the business. Personally, I am very pleased with their commitment and serious approach to every part of this complicated contract, as well as their unlimited availability at any time. When it comes to work that will determine the future of the company, but also the future of myself and my family, that is invaluable.