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Report On Business Quebecor to sell Archambault book-store business to Renaud-Bray

An Archambault book and music store is seen Tuesday, May 19, 2015 in Montreal. Quebecor has announced the sale of Groupe Archambault’s retail division to Renaud-Bray.

Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Quebecor Inc. is selling its Archambault book-store business to rival Renaud-Bray in a deal that will see control of two of Quebec's largest French-language book chains fall under one owner.

Montreal-based Renaud-Bray, North America's biggest French-language bookseller with 30 outlets, will buy Quebecor's 14 Archambault book and music stores, together with the Archambault website and Montreal's English-language book retailer Paragraphe, the companies announced separately Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

For privately held Renaud-Bray, run by 30-year-old Blaise Renaud after he took over the business from his father, the move marks a big gamble on bricks-and-mortar retail as competition grows fiercer from online purveyors such as Amazon.com Inc. Mr. Renaud, considered a bit of an oddball in the industry for his atypical views on book pricing and rejecting wider sectoral collaboration, among other things, said he intends to keep the two brands distinct and run them as separate entities. However, he hinted at operational changes to come.

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"Today's difficult economic climate has hit many Quebec retailers very hard," Mr. Renaud said in a statement. "In that context, Renaud-Bray and Archambault too need to adapt and to renew themselves to face the future."

For Montreal-based Quebecor, it's a further divesting of its traditional media properties. Earlier this year, Quebecor sold its Sun Media newspaper assets to Postmedia Network Canada Corp., taking a major bath on the transaction. Quebecor is now a nearly pure-play telecommunications firm, with the vast majority of its pretax earnings coming from the assets of its Vidéotron unit.

Quebecor shares fell to $31.07 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange Tuesday. They've gained 19 per cent over the past 12 months.

The sale is subject to approval by Canada's Competition Bureau.

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