Conad, the era ends Francesco Pugliese the architect of overtaking Coop

Conad, the era ends Francesco Pugliese the architect of overtaking Coop

The exit of Francesco Pugliese, since 2011 managing director of Conad, the cooperative of retailers which after the Auchan operation has become the first large-scale retail group in Italy, was in the air. «The Board of Directors of the National Consortium for Retailers (Conad) communicates that the professional relationship with the Cavaliere del Lavoro dott. Francesco Pugliese, has come to an end. Francesco Pugliese was one of the creators, during his long tenure, of a path of growth and development of the brand. His passion, his foresight and his expertise have helped to bring Conad to the top of large-scale distribution in Italy. The Board of Directors and all the people of Conad thank Francesco Pugliese for the years of fruitful collaboration and wish him many successes in the continuation of his career ».

Francesco Pugliese CEO of Conad (Imagoeconomica)

Having entered a Conad in 2004, Francesco Pugliese held the position of general manager and in 2011 he was appointed managing director. Under his guidance, year after year, the turnover grew by engaging in a tight head-to-head with the rival Coop. A competition that in 2019 had a decisive turning point with the acquisition of the Italian activities of Auchan, 1,600 points of sale including hypermarkets, supermarkets and Simply proximity shops with 20 thousand employees. The French brand had closed its accounts at a loss for years. In May 2019 Conad and the WRM group of the financier Raffaele Mincione through BDC Italia (51% Conad and 49% Mincione through Luxembourg-based Pop 18 Sarl) conquered Auchan. Thanks to the new assets, Conad's accounts accelerated to leadership in Italy with 18.5 billion in revenues in 2022. The Auchan - Conad operation had several aftermaths. Auchan was involved in a transactional carousel fraud scheme with VAT and IRES evasion. So Margherita Distribuzione, which had merged all of Auchan's activities after the acquisition, closed the dispute with the payment of 61.5 million in full collaboration with the Revenue Agency with which it shared all the documentation. Although decisive for the development of Conad, the Auchan operation has unleashed discontent between two of the five territorial consortiums. So at the beginning of May Conad Centro Nord (Ccn) and Conad Nord Ovest reported to the Bologna court serious irregularities in the management of the national structure. The two territorial companies complain that the financial statements of BCD and Margherita Distribuzione, subject to the management and coordination of BDC Italia SpA, were not filed with the register of companies. An expert appraisal had estimated the value of 46% of BDC at 220 million. In September 2022 Conad sold the position to Raffaele Mincione's WRM group for the symbolic value of one euro according to the framework agreement drawn up for the Auchan operation. Disputes also for the one-off payment of 3 million to the CEO as chairman of the BoD of BDC. According to the two Conad territorial councils, the councilors had not approved the emolument. Also at the beginning of May, on 8 May to be precise, the Ministry of Enterprise and Made in Italy launched an extraordinary inspection of Conad and the following day Mauro Lusetti, former president of Legacoop, became the new president of the Conad Consortium . In January, Il Sole-24 Ore anticipates Francesco Pugliese's departure from Conad «his mandate expiring and leaving with the next meeting in May…». According to the rumors, all that remained was to define the good exit for the CEO after 20 years in the Consortium while the headhunters began the work of identifying the best manager to fill the position of CEO of Conad.

Francesco Pugliese was appointed Cavaliere del Lavoro in May 2019 for the activity carried out in the thirty-five years spent in the trade-food sector and he was also the architect of the entry of the Conad system into Confcommercio. The Conad entrepreneurs have entered the governance of the territorial areas of Confcommercio while Pugliese has assumed the position of vice president of Confcommercio with responsibility for taxation and corporate finance. A possible stepping stone towards the presidency of the traders' association. As far as hobbies are concerned, the top manager is a great fan of vintage cars with which he participates together with his son in the Millemiglia and is a fan of Juventus.

onad Centro Nord (Ccn), Conad Nord Ovest (Cno) and Forty Srl, the first members of the national Conad shareholding structure and the third controlled by Ccn, reported to the civil court serious irregularities in the management of national Conad, filing an appeal according to article 2409 of the civil code. And asking for a judicial inspection of national Conad and its subsidiaries and the appointment of a special liquidator. However, the hearing, scheduled for yesterday morning, was postponed to next Thursday, pending the meeting of 9 May in which the board of directors will be renewed and during which, moreover, it now seems certain that he will give up the baton after 20 Francesco Pugliese, managing director of national Conad, was also years old.

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The newspaper Domani writes (director Stefano Feltri) that the Guardia di Finanza has investigated many companies for VAT evasion, especially those with offices abroad. In addition to Axa, Aramco, Coca Cola, Mediolanum and others, Conad and Carrefour have also been targeted.
The checks in the large-scale distribution sector affected Margherita Distribuzione (51% of Conad and 49% of Raffaele Mincione), the company that took over the activities of Auchan in Italy. In September 2022, together with all the others mentioned, she was involved in an investigation into VAT fraud. In the meantime, an agreement for fiscal peace has been found. For Margherita Distribuzione, writes Domani, the dispute ended with the payment of 61.5 million euros. The company has made it known that “it promptly took steps to stop any potentially illegal conduct. Furthermore, with the active involvement of Auchan Retail, its previous sole shareholder, Margherita Distribuzione has fully cooperated with the Revenue Agency and shared all available documentation, as well as already paid all disputed amounts, and will continue to cooperate with the authorities to prosecute those responsible for the fraud".
Carrefour has already paid 26.2 million euros to conclude the agreement with the Revenue Agency. The company, through the Italian press office, while confirming the agreement with the tax authorities, maintains that the amount has not yet been collected and that the amount quoted refers to what was seized by the prosecution. “Carrefour Italia immediately took action for a constructive and collaborative discussion aimed at clarifying and settling the disputes, relating to hypotheses of alleged tax fraud. The company therefore carried on positive discussions with the Revenue Agency, settling the dispute in the days leading up to Christmas”.

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