Changes in store as Carrefour fights falling sales

Supermarket chains struggling to cope with changing shopping habits in France 

At a graph of supermarket giant Carrefour’s share price over the past five years looks like a mountain stage of the Tour de France printed backwards.

Back in 2014, shares cost €31.18 each on its best day, while at the start of December 2019 they were hovering just under the €15 mark.

The situation looked so bad for the company, which has 12,000 stores in 30 countries, that there was talk that it might be broken up, voluntarily or forcibly. It was a big comedown for a firm that led the hypermarket sector in the 1980s and 1990s and was a source of national pride, with expansion into countries as far apart as Brazil and China.

In France, its 248 hypermarkets are familiar sights, dominating out-of-town shopping centres. They account for half of Carrefour’s sales figures here, and a quarter of global sales – but the car parks surrounding them have become less and less busy.

France’s shopping habits have changed. Instead of one large hypermarket shop a week, or a month, buyers have started going to smaller shops, closer to their homes.

During the last financial crisis, many ...

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