A leading industry analyst has said that the positive growth experienced in Carrefour's hypermarkets in the fourth quarter of the retailer's financial year indicates that the large-scale retail format may indeed have a future.
Olivier Dauvers was commenting following the publication of Carrefour's fourth quarter and full-year results, in which the group reported like-for-like growth of 5.5% across its France operations in Q4, with hypermarkets up 3.9%, supermarkets up 9.8% and convenience up 5.9%.
As Dauvers noted, Carrefour has now seen growth in its hypermarket channel in three of the last four quarters – in Q1 last year, hypermarket sales were up 0.9%, in Q2, sales were down 3.6%, in Q3, sales were up 2.5%, and in Q4, sales were up 3.9%, the highest quarterly growth rate for six years.
"In the fouth quarter, like-for-like sales [at Carrefour's] hypermarkets rose 3.9%, an unprecedented level," Dauvers said. "Yes, the market as a whole has been favourable and Carrefour has logically benefited from it – the supers posted + 9.8%.
"But hypermarkets (across all brands) have been penalised by the closure of non-essential departments for several weeks. In other words, there is more to the performance of Carrefour hypermarkets than just elements of context."
With this in mind, Dauvers believes that the onus is now on Rami Baitiéh, the newly-appointed boss of Carrefour France, to "eliminate from the purchasing journey all the reasons why a customer does not complete his purchasing intentions" – in other words, to streamline the hypermarket purchasing process for shoppers.
Addressing Carrefour executives via video link last summer, Baitiéh, who worked for Carrefour in Poland, Turkey, Romania, Taiwan, Argentina and Spain before taking up his current role, outlined his plans for the French operation.
'Winning The Battle'
"To transform the business, there is no magic method," he explained. "Our only compass is the customer. Our only reason for being is to serve him or her, with humility, with a smile, with high standards. We will win the battle when the customer is satisfied, every day, every minute, every time we go to the shelves, to every checkout.
"This is where we have to win the battle, and I will be by your side to give you the keys to drive it."
Baitiéh has also extolled the benefits of Carrefour's 5/5/5 strategy, which seeks to address 15 separate customer expectations divided into three core themes (trust, service and experience), through which he hopes to "win back customers, improve satisfaction and differentiate the retailer from the competition", an approach that appears to be bearing fruit in the group's hypermarket channel.
© 2021 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.