Club Piscine Super Fitness stores recently became the property of an Ontario firm, and surprisingly, Fonds de Solidarité FTQ offered $20 million to its buyer.
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The latter is Ontario’s VODA Backyard Leisure Group, joining two other Canadian companies in the sector.
VODA is owned by an Ontario fund managed by Fulcrum Capital Partners, an investment firm based in Toronto and Vancouver.
Earlier this year, Fonds FTQ quietly loaned $20 million to VODA and invested $6.5 million in the Fulcrum fund that bought Club Piscine’s new parent company.
“It’s time for us to move to another stage in our growth and we have a change of shareholders,” Marc Gentile, the franchisor’s new CEO, explained by phone.
The founder’s family sells
Until then, Club Piscine was owned by the family of Robert Amont, who founded the company in 1991 and died in 2017, along with other investors.
Quebecers remain shareholders of Club Piscine, but Fulcrum now controls the company because of its majority stake. Group management continues from the headquarters in Bois-des-Filions, north of Laval, where around 75 people work.
“Club Piscine remains Quebecois,” assured Mr. Gentil. 26 franchises [qui exploitent les 42 magasins de la chaîne]They are all Quebecers.”
For Fulcrum, Club Piscine is a great catch: Quebec is one of the world’s best markets for above-ground pools and spas.
Paul Eldridge, a partner at Fulcrum, is reassuring. According to him, the transaction is good for consumers here.
“When you’re part of a bigger company, you have the opportunity to offer better products at better prices,” he says.
No Quebec buyer
The situation is not ideal, notes Fonds FTQ, which prefers a Quebec buyer to come forward.
“When you have a partner like Fulcrum, which is committed to Quebec, and you don’t know if a foreign buyer might be interested… we favor Quebec buyers first and foremost. But when there’s none and we have a commitment [de maintenir les emplois au Québec]This is a win-win solution for Club Piscine workers and Quebec consumers,” said Fonds FTQ spokesperson Patrick McQuilken.
“In the rules applicable to the fund, this is allowed [d’investir dans une entreprise hors Québec] “As long as we can demonstrate economic spinoffs in Quebec,” he says.
Although Club Piscine hopes to benefit from “purchasing synergies” by passing on VODA’s leadership, there is no question of leaving the retailer’s Quebec suppliers.
“Our spas are from Lachute, our heat pumps are from Trois-Rivières and our swimming pools are from Saint-Hyacinthe,” points out Marc Gentil. “We’re not going to change that. […] The Quebec customer prefers “Made in Quebec”.
Super Fitness Pool Club
- Foundation: 1991
- Branches: 42
- Employees: More than 2500
More and more money was invested outside of Quebec
Fonds de solidarité FTQ is investing more and more outside of Quebec, noted News magazine.
Founded in 1983 by Louis Laberge thanks to a law of the second PQ government of René Levesque, the Fonds FTQ aims to invest in the development of Quebec companies.
But since 2017, the amount invested by the firm in funds or companies established outside Quebec has increased by 144%, from $69 million to $168 million annually.
Assistance from Quebec funds
Fonds FTQ became a shareholder in Wealthsimple, a Toronto financial firm controlled by Power Corporation, and in New York-based software company WorkFusion.
How is this possible? These companies include Quebec funds among their shareholders, namely W Investments in the case of Wealthsimple and NovaCap in the case of WorkFusion.
To support the still small number of Quebec asset managers, Fonds FTQ commits amounts to invest in Quebec or abroad.
Benefits in Quebec
Fonds FTQ also has the right to invest money in funds or companies outside Quebec that will create economic spinoffs in the province – contracts, jobs or otherwise.
For example, Fonds FTQ committed sums to funds from the California firm Versant Ventures, which invested in Quebec companies.
And he became a shareholder of Zymeworks, a Vancouver pharmaceutical firm that conducts part of its research activities in Quebec.
As of the end of May, Fonds FTQ had investments of $581 million, or 3.3% of its net assets, in funds and companies outside Quebec.
To this must be added the fund’s stock and bond investments, which are mostly in companies outside of Quebec.
As of the end of May, Fonds FTQ had net assets of $17.4 billion.
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