Carrefour Essay

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Carrefour (pronounced kar’fur) is an international hypermarket chain headquartered in Levallois-Perret, France. The name means “crossroads” or “junction” in French. It is the second-largest retailer in the world after Wal-Mart, with 2006 retail sales of $98 billion, income of $2.85 billion, and a compound annual growth rate of retail sales of 2.3 percent over 2001–06. The company reported $1.1 billion net profits during the first two quarters of 2008, a 3.1 percent increase from the year before.

The company was formed by the Fournier and Defforey families in 1959, and opened its first supermarket in Annecy, Haute-Savoie, France, in 1960. In 1963 they created a new store concept, the hypermarket, when they opened in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois, France, by selling both food and non-food items in a store with a floor area of 2,500 square meters. It currently operates in over 31 countries using primarily hypermarkets, in addition to other formats such as cash and carry warehouse club, discount department store, supercenter, superstore, and supermarket.

In addition to their presence in France, Carrefour now operates in other countries. In Europe it has opened stores in Spain (1970), Greece (1991), Italy, Turkey (1993), Poland (1997), Belgium (2000), Romania (2001), and Cyprus (2006). In Asia, they operate in Taiwan (1989), Malaysia (1994), China, United Arab Emirates (1995), Singapore (1997), Indonesia (1998), Japan, Oman, Qatar (2000), Jordan, Kuwait (2007), and Pakistan (2008). In the Americas, they have a presence in Brazil (1975), Argentina (1982), Colombia (1998), and in the Dominican Republic (2000). In Africa, their stores are in Tunisia (2001), Egypt (2002), and Algeria (2005).

According to Carrefour’s human resources policies, seven specific values are very important to the operations of the company. They include (1) freedom: respecting the customers’ freedom of choice by offering a variety of store formats and a diversity of products and brands at various price points; (2) responsibility: fully accepting the consequences of the company’s actions on the customers, employees, and the environment; (3) sharing: leveraging the expertise and strengths among these stakeholders to create value; (4) respect: for all parties involved and listening to them and accepting their differences; (5) integrity: dealing honestly and keeping their word; (6) solidarity: helping local economies, businesses, and creating jobs, applying fair trade practices; and (7) progress: encouraging innovation and serving the needs of the people.

Since 2006 the company has continued to consolidate its position in France by opening their 218th hypermarket in the country. In Romania, they continue to solidify their position by the integration of five hypermarkets. In Spain, they have acquired four hypermarkets and two gasoline stations from Caprabo. The group is also involved in developing new concepts, like a mini-hypermarket, Carrefour

Express, and accelerating the pace of organic growth. Overall, this has now created 103 hypermarkets and 1.4 million square meters of new sales floor area in this country.

In Taiwan, they have 45 hypermarkets with the integration of Carrefour Tesco. In Poland, the acquisition of Ahold Polska catapulted the group to second place in the country’s grocery retail market, with 194 stores, including 15 hypermarkets. In Great Britain, the company is trying to speed up the information on on-shelf availability through tiered information-sharing with suppliers. They expect to increase the level of integration and enhance collaboration. In the Middle East (including Tehran), Carrefour is in the process of opening shops through Majid al-Futtaim (MAF), its United Arab Emirates–based franchisee.

Despite its successes, Carrefour has also had to withdraw from a few markets, including Chile (2004), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (2005), Hong Kong (1998), Japan (2005), Mexico (2005), Portugal (2007), South Korea (2006), Switzerland (2007), and the United States (1993).

The Carrefour group also owns private labels such as Produits libres (free products) used for food products such as oil, biscuits, milk, and pasta sold in unbranded white packages at nominal prices. The company has also diversified outside the retail market by beginning to offer Carrefour Insurance Services in 1984, and a real estate property company called Carrefour Property in 2004. Carrefour’s real estate valuation of its real property holdings is between $29.7 billion and $35.7 billion.


  1. Carrefour, (cited March 2009);
  2. Bozorgmehr, “Carrefour Aims to Shake Up Iran’s Food Industry,” The Financial Times, London, (cited March 2009);
  3. Katya Foreman, “Carrefour Profits Up,” Women’s Wear Daily (v.196/46, September 2008);
  4. Mim M. Spencer, “Earnings Digest: Carrefour Profit Rises, Shares Increase 7.2,” Wall Street Journal (August 30, 2008).

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