Metro buys French food services group Pro a Pro from Colruyt

The logos of German retailer Metro are pictured on shopping carts and at the entrance of a market in Langenzersdorf, Austria, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German retailer Metro MEOG.DE is buying French food services company Pro a Pro from Belgian retail and wholesale group Colruyt COLR.BR, enabling it to expand in Pro a Pro's home market, it said on Friday.

While Metro and Colryt declined to disclose the price tag, two people close to the matter told Reuters that the deal valued the business at 200 million euros ($221 million).

France is one of the most important markets for Metro’s wholesale Cash & Carry unit, which has 94 outlets in that country, while Pro a Pro supplies foods directly to French schools, hospitals, restaurants, cafés and caterers.

Pro à Pro employs 1,700 staff and last year generated sales of 670 million euros to about 42,000 customers.

“Food service distribution is a strategic growth driver for the wholesale business of Metro Cash & Carry”, Metro Chief Executive Olaf Koch said in a statement.

The deal is the second one this year in the food distribution business, after the acquisition of German firm Rungis Express in February.

Colruyt said that the deal will have a limited effect on its financial performance in 2016/17, adding that its other businesses in Belgium, France and Luxembourg are not affected by the transaction.

Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Matthias Inverardi; Editing by Greg Mahlich