Sainsbury’s pulled off the biggest retail deal of the year when it sealed the £1.4bn acquisition of Argos owner Home Retail Group after a tussle for control.

As the grocer’s boss Mike Coupe prepares to discuss the deal during a keynote speech at Retail Week Live 2017, we take a look back at the key dates and milestones that helped make 2016 a landmark year for Sainsbury’s. 

January 5, 2016

Sainsbury’s starts the new year with a bang that creates shockwaves across the industry, revealing its interest in acquiring Home Retail Group.

The grocer says it approached the Argos owner about a takeover bid in November 2015 but had its overtures rebuffed. Home Retail says the offer “undervalued” the business “and its long-term prospects”.

Sainsbury’s says it is “considering its position” after being handed a deadline of February 2 to submit its intention to make an offer or confirm that it does not intend to make a second bid.

January 13, 2016

Sainsbury's boss Mike Coupe described Argos as a

Mike Coupe

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe described Argos as a “compelling” target

Sainsbury’s unveils more detail behind its bid for Home Retail, publishing a 22-page presentation outlining the potential synergies between the two businesses.

The supermarket giant’s boss Mike Coupe describes the Argos owner as a “compelling” takeover target as the grocer adapts to “rapidly changing” consumer habits.

February 2, 2016

As the bid deadline arrives, Sainsbury’s and Home Retail reveal they have reached agreement on a possible offer that values the business at around £1.3bn.

Coupe says the potential takeover would “accelerate” the grocer’s multichannel strategy and allow it to compete with the likes of Amazon and John Lewis in the fiercely competitive non-food market.

February 19, 2016

February brings an unexpected twist in the tale as South African retail conglomerate Steinhoff throws its hat into the ring for control of Argos after lodging an eleventh-hour bid for Home Retail.

Steinhoff tables an all-cash offer of 175p per share in a bid to acquire the business, valuing it at £1.4bn – higher than Sainsbury’s original offer.

February 22, 2016

Following the Steinhoff bid, Sainsbury’s is handed an extension to its “put up or shut up” deadline to table a firm offer for Home Retail. It now has until March 18 – the same cut-off date given to Steinhoff – to make its interest concrete.

February 29, 2016

Home Retail completes the sale of its Homebase DIY business to Australian group Wesfarmers in a £340m deal.

March 18, 2016

On a dramatic day, Steinhoff pulls out of the running to acquire Home Retail – instead making an offer for French electricals retailer Darty – leaving Sainsbury’s as the clear front-runner to snap up the Argos owner.

Just one hour after its South African rival revealed it was abandoning plans to buy the group, Sainsbury’s tables a firm cash-plus-shares bid of £1.4bn ahead of the 5pm deadline.

The structure of the offer comprises 55p in cash and 0.321 Sainsbury’s shares for each Home Retail share, valuing Home Retail at £1.2bn, with a special dividend of 27.8p per share bringing the total value of the deal to 173.2p per share and £1.4bn in total.

March 21, 2016

Analysts from Exane BNP Paribas predict that 330 of Argos’s 734 stores could be shuttered and replaced by concessions inside nearby Sainsbury’s stores, should the deal go ahead.

It is anticipated that Sainsbury’s would replace these with 270 new Argos shop-in-shops and 770 click-and-collect points.

Argos Sainsburys

Argos Sainsburys

Sainsbury’s is expected to replace some Argos stores with shop-in-shops and click-and-collect points

April 1, 2016

There were no April Fools among the Home Retail leadership team as its board “unanimously” recommends Sainsbury’s offer for the business, paving the way for the grocer to seal the deal.

April 27, 2016

Home Retail posts a full-year pre-tax loss of £804m after being driven into the red by a series of one-off charges relating to the Sainsbury’s acquisition.

The group said the proposed deal “resulted in an exceptional goodwill impairment charge” of £852m, but boss John Walden hailed a “landmark” year for the business as the £1.4bn takeover neared.

May 27, 2016

Britain’s competition watchdog confirms it has launched an investigation into whether Sainsbury’s acquisition of Argos will create a “substantial lessening of competition” in the market.

Coupe insists he is “confident” the £1.4bn deal will go ahead despite the probe from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Sainsbury's finance boss John Rogers will take over as boss of Home Retail Group - which is to be renamed Sainsbury's Argos.

John Rogers full length

Sainsbury’s finance chief John Rogers will take over as boss of Home Retail Group.

June 10, 2016

Sainsbury’s reveals that its finance supremo John Rogers will become chief executive of Home Retail Group once the deal completes, with current boss Walden to step down.

Under the plans, Sainsbury’s says Rogers will be based at Home Retail’s Milton Keynes head office, but will remain on the grocer’s main board and group operating board and continue to report to Coupe.

July 5, 2016

Sainsbury’s calls time on its joint venture with Scandinavian discounter Netto in a clear sign that it will prioritise investment in integrating Argos into its business.

Coupe insists he is “absolutely convinced” of the rationale behind the acquisition of Home Retail Group and that the UK’s exit from the European Union will not impact the deal.

“We remain committed to making the deal happen,” Coupe said at the time. “We believe that we can still deliver against the synergies and the execution that we have outlined, regardless of whatever economic conditions prevail over the next period of time.”

His comments come as the supermarket giant publishes a 182-page prospectus relating to the deal, which warns that Brexit “has caused and may continue to cause market uncertainty and volatility”.

July 22, 2016

The acquisition moves a step closer as the CMA reveals it has approved the deal, following an initial phase one probe.

Sainsbury’s calls the move an “important step” with an upcoming vote by Home Retail Group’s shareholders now the only remaining hurdle in its efforts to seal the deal.

July 27, 2016

Home Retail Group’s shareholders unanimously vote in favour of the proposed acquisition – 99.95% of them give the green light to the deal.

September 2, 2016

Sainsbury’s officially completes its £1.4bn acquisition of Argos.

Retail Week Live 2017 takes place on March 8 to 9 at The Intercontinental Hotel, O2, London.

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