PARIS Swiss fund Ledunfly and Austria's Do & Co Restaurants & Catering AG are best placed among groups working on offers to buy Hediard, the French chain of luxury food shops that filed for insolvency in October, a source close to the matter said.
The Paris commercial court is set to review offers to buy Hediard on June 4, including one from French restaurant group Le Duff, owner of La Brioche Doree food chain.
"Ledunfly and Do & Co are really in the race and can still improve their offers. Duff's offer is more limited," the source told Reuters on Friday.
Candidates have until midnight to make their final offers.
Le Duff and Ledunfly could not be immediately reached for comment while Do & Co had no immediate comment.
Ledunfly is offering 2 million euros ($2.72 million) to buy loss-making Hediard and keep its staff of 134 while it would also inject a further 15 million euros to help the group expand, the source said.
Do & Co is offering 15 million euros and would keep about 100 people. It plans to invest a further 6 million in Hediard's flagship store on the chic La Madeleine square in Paris, opposite rival luxury food group Fauchon.
So far, Russian tycoon Sergei Pugachev, who bought Hediard in 2007, has not made any offer. He could still submit a plan by midnight that would allow the company to keep operating.
"It's possible but unlikely," the source said.
Hediard, which is present in 30 countries, opened in Paris in 1854 as a small shop specialising in exotic foods.
It operates five stores in Paris, including La Madeleine flagship store, and has 250 selling points worldwide, of which 70 are in France.
The Luxadvor group, controlled by Pugachev, bought the chain in 2007 in a deal designed to help it expand abroad, but Hediard has lost money for the past six years.
Hediard posted a net loss of 6 million euros on revenue of 17.5 million in the 2013/14 financial year ended March 31.
(This story corrects Do & Co to Ledunfly in graph 6 and Ledunfly to Do & Co in paragraph 7.)
(Reporting by Pascale Denis, Dominique Vidalon; Additional reporting by Alice Baghdjian in Zurich, Georgina Prodhan in Vienna; Editing by Jean-Michel Belot and Erica Billingham)