While French consumers may be more concerned with the government's pension reform plans at present, the cost-of-living situation in the country isn't getting any easier, as food price inflation continues to rise – in February 2023, food prices were 14.8% higher year-on-year, compared to a 13.3% increase in January.
Few product categories are immune from increased prices, Insee, the French statistics agency, reported recently – fresh vegetables are 23.3% more expensive, fresh fruit is 9.8% more expensive, bread is up 14.4%, meat is 15.4% higher, and cheese is up 19.4%. Only fresh fish prices appear to be normalising, albeit at an elevated level; prices in February were 12.0% higher, compared to 14.7% higher in January.
In March, the French government agreed a deal with major retailers to cap the price of essential food items until at least June, as it seeks to limit the impact on inflation on hard-pressed households.
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire has convened meetings with retailers and suppliers to address the issue of rising food prices and find strategies to break the ongoing inflation trend. Le Maire has consistently emphasized the importance of reopening negotiations between both parties to ensure that the recent decline in global wholesale food prices is reflected in consumer prices.
In fact, Le Maire has gone as far as issuing a warning, stating that if the calls for action are not heeded, he will take appropriate measures to address the situation.
Read More: France Could Tax Food Industry Over High Prices: Finance Minister
As a result of the current inflationary situation, the discount channel is now the fastest-growing in France, Kantar data recently revealed.
Here's an overview of the top ten supermarket retail chains in France, according to their most recently-available full-year turnover. All data is supplied by Retail-Index (www.retail-index.com).
Turnover: €51 billion (2021)
With a turnover of €51 billion in 2021, E.Leclerc is the largest retail chain in France. It has over 1,400 outlets under its various banners, including Brico E.Leclerc, Drive-in, E.Leclerc, L'Auto E.Leclerc, Le Manege a Bijoux E.Leclerc, Optique E.Leclerc, Parapharmacie, Sports et Loisirs, and Une Heure Pour Soi. It has had a presence in France since 1949.
Read More: E.Leclerc, Aldi and U Post Strongest Market Share Gains In France
Turnover: €35.28 billion (2021)
With more than 60 years of history under its belt, Carrefour is the second-largest retail chain in France, with a turnover of €35.28 billion as of 2021. It operates 5,773 outlets under various banners, including Carrefour Hypermarket, Carrefour Proximity Super Markets, Carrefour Supermarket, and Promocash.
Read More: Carrefour Confident As Q1 Sales Growth Accelerates
3. Les Mousquetaires
Turnover: €36.06 billion (2022)
Les Mousquetaires is the third-largest retail chain in France, with a turnover of €36.06 billion in 2022. It operates under the Intermarché and Netto banners and has 2,200 outlets. Les Mousquetaires also has a presence in Belgium, Portugal and Poland.
Read More: Les Mousquetaires Says 2022 Showed Changes In Purchasing Behaviour
4. Système U
Turnover: €22.97 billion (2021)
With a history dating back to the late 19th century, Système U reported a turnover of €22.97 billion in 2021, and operates under various banners, including Hyper U, Marché U, Super U, U express, and UTile. It has 1,640 outlets.
Read More: France’s Système U Sees 2022 Turnover Up 4% In 2022
Turnover: €16.2 billion (2021)
Auchan had a turnover of €16.2 billion in 2021 and operates under various banners, including Auchan Hypermarket, Auchan Supermarkets, AuchanDrive and chronodrive, My Auchan, and Oney (Auchan). It has 588 outlets, as of last year.
Read More: Auchan France Launches New 'Smart Store' At Its Headquarters
Turnover: €14.03 billion (2021)
Groupe Casino reported turnover of €14.03 billion in France in 2021. It has 5,705 outlets under various banners, including Casino Proximité, Casino Supermarchés, Cdiscount, Franprix, Géant Casino, Le Petit Casino, Monop', Monoprix, Naturalia, Sherpa Supermarche, SPAR, and Vival.
Read More: Groupe Casino To Sell Some French Stores To Groupement Les Mousquetaires
Turnover: €14 billion (2021 – estimated)
Part of Germany's Schwarz Group, Lidl boasts 1,630 outlets in France as of 2022. While its exact sales figures aren't known, sales in France are estimated at €14 billion for 2021. It has had a presence in the country since 1988.
Turnover: €5.09 billion (2021)
Cora reported a turnover of €5.09 billion in 2021 and operates under various banners, including Cora and Match. It has 176 outlets (as of last year). The first Cora hypermarket opened in France in 1969.
Turnover: €3.75 billion (2021 – estimated)
Wholesale group Metro reported an estimated turnover of €3.75 billion in 2021, and has 99 cash-and-carry outlets across the country. Part of Germany's Metro AG, it has had a presence in the country for more than 50 years, opening its first outlet in 1971.
Turnover: €3.3 billion (2020 – estimated)
Rounding off the top ten, Aldi France, a subsidiary of Aldi Nord in Germany, reported an estimated turnover of €3.3 billion in 2020, and has 1,388 outlets as of last year.
A number of notable retailers fall outside the top ten, and are also worth mentioning. Picard Surgelés is a frozen food specialist that has over 1000 stores across France, while SPAR has 898 outlets across the country. There are also several notable retailers that specialise in organic and natural products, including Biocoop (781 outlets), Naturalia, Comptoirs de la Bio (102 outlets) and Bio c' Bon (95 outlets). Finally, there are several smaller chains such as G20, Colruyt, and Norma.
Retail-Index is a specialist supplier of management information on consumer retail markets, provided by Veraart Research Group in the Netherlands. Its mission is to supply managers with up-to-date key information on retail markets in Europe and support them in their international expansion.
The company dates back to 1964, when it started as a market research and marketing consulting company for consumer products and services. In 1989, it started publishing written reports on various retail sectors in Europe. As of 2005, it publishes its information on retailers through the online database and curated datasheet exports available on www.retail-index.com. A team of researchers manages the data to reflect upon current developments in the markets, collected from an extensive number of sources.
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© 2023 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.