France's Carrefour revamps operations with job cuts, China deal

Some 2,400 jobs will be cut in Carrefour's French operations, which currently total 10,500 staff.
Some 2,400 jobs will be cut in Carrefour's French operations, which currently total 10,500 staff.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - France's Carrefour group said Tuesday (Jan 23) it is overhauling its business in a transformation plan involving thousands of job cuts, a product revamp and new partnerships in China.

Carrefour, which was the world's second-biggest retailer at the start of the century after US giant Wal-Mart, has since slipped to ninth position, according to the Deloitte consultancy, having been overtaken by the likes of Amazon and Costco.

Some 2,400 jobs will be cut in Carrefour's French operations, which currently total 10,500 staff, via voluntary redundancies, the group announced.

The retailer's product mix is to be redirected towards more organic produce, with a target of increasing sales in that segment almost four-fold by 2022, it said.

“We must revamp our model, by simplifying our organization, opening ourselves up to partnerships, improving our operational efficiency, investing in our growth formats, building an efficient omnichannel model and developing our fresh and organic products offer, notably under the Carrefour brand,” CEO Alexandre Bompard said in a statement.

It will also accelerate its online development, aiming for a 20-per-cent market share in French online food sales, and open at least 2,000 new neighbourhood outlets in its French home market in coming years.

Carrefour is hoping for 2 billion euros (S$3.23 billion) dollars of annual savings from 2020 onwards thanks to the restructuring as it streamlines logistics and overheads.

Separately, Carrefour also said it had signed a deal with Chinese internet giant Tencent and supermarket group Yonghui which will take a minority stake in Carrefour’s Chinese subsidiary.

“The potential investment will leverage Carrefour’s global retail knowledge with Tencent’s technological excellence and Yonghui’s operational knowhow and in particular its deep knowledge of fresh products,” Carrefour said.

Stock market investors took an instant liking to Carrefour’s announcements, pushing the retailer’s shares more than three percent higher at the opening on the Paris bourse.