Global M&A Trends in Consumer Markets: 2023 Mid-Year Update

Portfolio reviews and a focus on capability building will support M&A activity in consumer markets.

Consumer markets’ M&A activity was muted in the first half of 2023, reaching its lowest levels since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain of the view that uncertainty about the macroeconomic outlook and the decline in real incomes from inflation is directly affecting consumer sentiment and spending and will lift only gradually during 2023. However, we remain cautiously optimistic that long-term trends and underlying factors will lead to more stable M&A activity in consumer markets during the second half of the year.

Consumer sentiment is showing some signs of recovering: PwC’s June 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey found 50% of consumers plan to increase their online shopping activity in the next six months, while we see significant increases in expected total expenditure across all retail, as well as sectors such as luxury products, entertainment and leisure, and travel. As dealmakers consider their near-term investment strategies, they are closely monitoring economic and other data sources for positive cues that indicate increasing stability.

We expect valuations will continue to come down, although there remains a valuation gap between sellers and buyers that may be preventing some assets from reaching the market. Restructuring activity across consumer markets, particularly in retail and some parts of the leisure subsector, is expected to increase—hardly surprising given the lower growth, pressure on margins, and higher financing costs. With a growing number of companies facing liquidity issues or a refinancing event, this will likely lead not only to a higher level of restructuring activity but also to the potential for (pre-) distressed M&A, with opportunistic cash-rich corporates and private equity funds expected to be the likely buyers.

Global M&A Trends in Consumer Markets: 2023 Outlook image

‘CEOs in the consumer space are juggling a difficult economic environment, long-term shifts in consumer behaviour, and the onward march of technology. I believe M&A will be a valuable accelerator, helping companies successfully deliver on their strategic objectives.’

Hervé RoeschGlobal Consumer Markets Deals Leader, Partner, PwC UK

We believe the pressure for businesses to transform through transactions and accelerate the delivery of their strategic agendas remains as high as ever—or perhaps even higher. This is spurred by a desire, plus an increased sense of urgency, to innovate and leverage technology, including D2C and generative AI, to get more out of existing consumer spend, and to convert or find new customers. Improving D2C offerings and omnichannel models through technology has been a theme for some time among consumer products companies. Retailers are increasingly using technology to optimise and broaden customer experiences—at both the point-of-decision and the point-of-sale. Concerns over supply chain resilience have spurred some M&A focused on vertical integration, such as in transportation and logistics, where companies have sought access to technology to improve operations, particularly related to last-mile delivery and to gain greater control over the end-to-end supply chain.

We also expect consumer companies to further rebalance portfolios with greater focus on sustainability. Despite inflation reducing consumers’ disposable income and levels of discretionary spending, PwC’s June 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey found that 80% of respondents said they were willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods. We see environmental, social and governance (ESG) gaining in importance as a screening criterion and during due diligence.

We expect CEOs will continue to focus on portfolio renewal and divesting of certain non-core assets and brands, especially given the elevated levels of shareholder activism seen today.

Another area where we see potential for M&A activity in the next six months is in public-to-private deals, especially in the retail sector, where lower public company valuations will create opportunities for dealmakers.

Key themes driving M&A activity in consumer markets


  • Looking ahead to the second half of 2023, the retail sector remains challenging, with M&A activity more likely to occur in the more resilient subsectors, such as consumer health and wellness (including clinics offering health and beauty services), beauty, pet retail, and pet services, or in specific situations which are driven by refinancing or the need to transform.
  • Many of the more notable transactions announced during the first half of 2023 were in these sectors, including L’Oreal’s proposed acquisition of Aesop, an Australian cosmetics retailer; JD Sports’ proposed acquisition of Courir, a French sportswear retailer; Migros’ acquisition of Zur Rose’s Swiss online pharmacy business; and the take-private by a management-led group of the Franchise Group, a US company that operates several retail businesses, including in the vitamins, minerals, and supplements sector and in the pet supplies and services sector.
  • Fuel and convenience retail sites have changed hands, as well, with Asda’s announced acquisitions of 350 petrol forecourts and 1,000 takeaways in the UK and Ireland from EG Group and 132 grocery retail sites, with attached petrol stations, from The Co-Op, and the announced €3.1bn (approximately US$3.3bn) acquisition in March 2023 by Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc to acquire 2,200 service stations and the B2B fuel card activities of TotalEnergies in four European countries. These three deals are indicative of broader investor interest in the sector, which is transforming to adapt to the shift in demand away from gasoline and to meet the future charging needs for electric vehicles.
  • Other retail sectors, such as home goods, fashion, and consumer electronics, are facing weakening demand as inflation-hit consumers cut back on non-essential spending on discretionary items. We expect to see higher levels of restructuring activity and distressed M&A in these sectors in the coming months.

Read our key trends for the consumer, hospitality and leisure, and transportation and logistics sectors.


  • The consumer sector remains attractive from an M&A perspective, with dealmaking activity driven by portfolio reviews and strategic deals—for example, Altria’s acquisition of NJOY, a manufacturer of e-cigarettes and vaping products, and Diageo’s acquisition of Don Papa Rum, a premium rum manufacturer.
  • We anticipate M&A activity will pick up in the food ingredients and agri-business subsectors, as illustrated by the intended acquisition of Kerry Group’s Sweet Ingredients Portfolio by Italy’s IRCA. The pet products sector is also expected to remain active, as illustrated by Post Holdings acquiring select pet food brands from The J.M. Smucker Co. in the US. Other sectors that are more resilient to weakening consumer spending, such as consumer health, will likely see M&A activity continue.
  • We have also noted a growing interest in consumer services (such as lawn care, home cleaning, grocery and food delivery), with investors attracted to the recurring nature of the revenues and the digital base for the provision of services.

Read our key trends for the retailhospitality and leisure, and transportation and logistics sectors.

Hospitality and Leisure

  • Overall, M&A activity in the hospitality and leisure sector during the first half of the year has been dominated by the sports subsector. The most notable transaction was the US$6bn proposed sale of the NFL’s Washington Commanders. A number of other sports-related assets—including clubs, leagues and broadcasting rights owners—are in play, and we expect sustained deals activity in the second half of 2023.
  • Business travel has almost returned to the levels seen in 2019, and deal activity in the travel subsector has picked up as a result. The M&A activity is mostly being led by corporates, such as Flight Centre’s acquisition of luxury travel operator Scott Dunn and Hyatt’s announced plans to acquire the London-based luxury accommodation platform Mr & Mrs Smith.
  • We expect that investors will continue to look to acquire best-in-class businesses, although overall M&A volumes will continue to be subdued. Included in this we see corporate-led activity continuing to be strong, with Mohari Hospitality’s acquisition of Tao Group and Japanese conglomerate Toridoll’s partnering with Capdesia to take-private The Fulham Shore being recent examples.

Read our key trends for the retailconsumer, and transportation and logistics sectors.

Transportation and Logistics

  • After experiencing record M&A activity levels between 2021 and mid-2022, in a sector that benefited from pandemic-fuelled demand and profits boosted by the ensuing supply chain disruptions, deals activity within the transportation and logistics sector has since abated and remains below both pandemic and pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2023.
  • Deal flow is likely to remain subdued until private company valuations realign between sellers and buyers. However, we expect we may see more public-to-private deals, such as Brookfield Infrastructure’s take-private of Triton International Limited, a leading lessor of freight containers.
  • The CMA CGM SA Group’s proposed acquisition of Bolloré Group’s logistics business, announced in May 2023, is an example of the trend of vertical integration led by large international shippers.
  • We believe that capability-building M&A (focused on logistics services and technology) by the largest operators seeking to accelerate innovation through acquisitions, together with a number of small- to medium-sized transactions, will drive the transportation and logistics M&A market for the second half of the year.

Read our key trends for the retailconsumer, and hospitality and leisure sectors.

2023 mid-year M&A outlook for consumer markets

Overall, we expect 2023 will likely remain a challenging year for M&A in consumer markets, given the economic backdrop and financing challenges. Even as optimism cautiously grows, deal sizes are likely to remain lower than historical levels and include more complex structures to support deal financing and downside protection for all parties. Successful dealmakers will be those that are prepared, act on the right opportunities, and execute on their strategic objectives to deliver sustained outcomes through a well-considered value creation plan.


Explore our local M&A Trends in Consumer Markets from the following countries or regions:

Want to know the M&A trends we expected we expected in Consumer Markets at the beginning of 2023?

Read our 2023 Outlook