December 6, 2023

The Queens County Citizen

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Great interview with Pierre Simard | A serial buyer

Great interview with Pierre Simard |  A serial buyer

Corporation financier Champlain’s name has appeared regularly in financial news over the years, as the venture capital firm targeting SMEs ramps up its acquisitions and daily increases its footprint in the world of Quebec companies. A meeting with its president and founder, Pierre Simard.

Posted at 7:00 am

Jean-Philippe Decary

Jean-Philippe Decary

The number and pace of new investments made by corporate financier Champlain over the past two years has remained low.

Last year, the group conducted no fewer than 15 financing or refinancing operations for companies it invested in, and this year, it has closed five transactions so far.

First was the acquisition of the Sportscene Group, followed by the acquisition of Location Savageau and Location Legare, Armoires Cuisine Action, G2MC Group and the refinancing of Sportscene, along with the acquisition of Restos Plaisirs and its Cochan Dingue brands. .

Today, we have 33 companies in our portfolio that thrive on 23 different platforms that we help grow.

Pierre Simard, CEO of Champlain Financial Corporation

Pierre Simard, an investment banker at Lazard et Frères in New York, founded the investment firm in 2004 on the American model of Champlain Financial Corporation, which he had created two years earlier. – Colleagues.

“I’m from Quebec. After graduating with my engineering degree, I moved to the United States to complete my MBA and worked in the financial world in New York.

“In 2002, I founded Champlain Financial Corporation with two partners and we created the first investment fund among American SMEs. In 2004, I was homesick, so I decided to return to Montreal with my family to set up the same holding company model,” says Pierre Simard.

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Acquire and integrate

Corporation Financier Champlain’s (CFC) investment thesis is simple. It is about acquiring companies that have the potential to lead to consolidation of their field of operations.

“We identify family businesses that are looking for financial partners. We take a majority stake and support companies to take them further.

“We invest with a long-term view of 10 years or more. Our first acquisition was wheelchair manufacturer Orthofab in 2005, but our first major success was the acquisition and development of retailer Sports Russo in 2006,” the investor said.

After acquiring a 70% stake in four Sports Rousseau stores, the group grew to a chain of 23 stores across Canada before being acquired in 2012 by Canadian Dron-owned Forzani Group.

6 million investment in 2006 sold for 85 million in 2012. That was our starting shot.

Pierre Simard

In 2012, CFC acquired high-end furniture retailer La Galerie du Meuble de Québec, then in 2013 took a majority stake in Maison Corbeil, then Les Jardins de Ville.

“We have created a retail platform in high-end furniture that we call G2MC and it will be managed by Stefan and Eric Korbel, who have stayed on at the company.

“We created the MUST brand, now with eight stores, and there, we’re invading Western Canada under the Home Society banner, [présente] In Ontario, Toronto has two stores with the largest surface area in high-end furniture,” says the CEO of corporation financier Champlain.

10 years ago, the G2MC platform had a revenue of 20 million, which has grown to over 200 million today.

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Financial partners

Since its inception, corporation financier Champlain has been associated with various financial partners, but it remains its reference investor.

“Since 2006, the Fondation has invested more than $100 million in a dozen of our businesses. They are our main financial partners. We are partners on many platforms,” ​​emphasizes Pierre Simard.

Corporation financier Champlain was also associated with a hundred wealthy families participating in its investment projects; Out of these 100 private investors, 20 are more active than others.

“We give family wealth management offices the opportunity to invest directly in a company or platform rather than in a fund. They can contribute their expertise depending on their level of participation. Investments range from $500,000 to $20 million.

“Today, our 23 platforms have total assets under management of 650 million,” noted Pierre Simard.

CFC’s main platforms include the JLD-Laguë group, which has 16 John Deere dealerships, 7 Peterbilt dealerships, Location Savego and Location Legare.

The Grandio Group, formerly Sportscene, now owns 55 restaurants, including Moishes as well as 42 La Cage restaurants, Cochon Dingue restaurants and 3 Lionel Brasseries, which will soon reopen in Montreal.

CFC is the majority shareholder in all investee companies, with the exception of Louis Garneau, who holds a 30% stake. Besides the companies already named, the corporation is the owner of Financier Champlain Kanuk Coats, Naya Waters, Dion Spices, Dumas Bakery, Brault & Boutillier Educational Games and Wong Wing Foods.

“Our largest investment is in Champlain Seafood, which brings together eight crab and lobster processors in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Massachusetts.

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“We’re the largest crab and lobster processor in North America, processing 50 million pounds a year and 500 million in revenue. A $140 million book value investment,” says the CEO of corporation financier Champlain proudly.

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