Carrefour names Brazil boss to speed expansion

PARIS (Reuters) - Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer, named a new boss in Brazil as it seeks to accelerate its expansion in its largest market after France.

News of the appointment came Friday after a report published on the website of business magazine Exame said late on Thursday that Carrefour had hired two investment banks to prepare an initial public offering for its Brazilian business.

Carrefour declined to comment on the report while a source close to the matter told Reuters that Carrefour was looking "at all options to accelerate its development in Brazil".

Carrefour has said it wants to step up expansion in its two key emerging markets of China and Brazil, but CEO Georges Plassat has said he is yet to figure out how to do so and how to fund it. Plassat has made clear that an IPO is one financing option among others to expand in Brazil.

Carrefour on Friday named Charles Desmartis to the newly created position of CEO of Brepa Comércio e Participações Ltda (BREPA), the Carrefour Group's holding company in Brazil, effective Nov 4, 2013.

Mr Desmartis will supervise all of the group's activities in the country: Carrefour Comércio e Indústria, headed by Luiz Fazzio, which includes Carrefour hypermarkets, Bairro supermarkets and Financial Services, and Atacadão, the Cash & Carry format, headed by José Roberto Mussnich.

"This organization will enable a new phase in Carrefour's development in Brazil, marked by the renovation of the store network and the acceleration of expansion" the statement said.

Carrefour did not provide any targets on that expansion.

With sales of 12.5 billion euros (S$21.3 billion) in 2012 and 68,000 employees, Brazil is Carrefour's second-biggest market after France, making 14.5 per cent of group sales.

Brazil has been a bright spot for Carrefour at a time of weak growth in Europe, recording like-for-like sales growth of 8.8 per cent in the third quarter of 2013, compared with 3.1 per cent for the group.

Carrefour is the second-largest operator in the Brazilian food retail market, behind leader Grupo Pao de Acucar (GPA), controlled by Carrefour's arch rival Casino, and just ahead of world number one retailer United States group Wal-Mart.

Carrefour's growth in Brazil, however, still lags that of Casino's GPA, which reached 12 per cent in the third quarter.

Carrefour Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon said at a call on third quarter sales on Oct 17 that Carrefour expected expansion in China and in Brazil "to pick up in the fourth quarter this year".

Carrefour opened its first store in Brazil in 1975 and currently operates 102 hypermarkets and 41 supermarkets in the country. The group also acquired in 2007 the Atacadão Cash & Carry chain, which has 93 stores.

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