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    End of year period was no party for Carrefour

    Carrefour hypermarket

    The hypermarkets continue to affect French retail group Carrefour: sales in France, Italy and Belgium continued to fall in the fourth quarter. However, there are also some bright spots: Latin America, Poland and Romania save the furniture, profitability improves and the transformation plan is on track.

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    Strikes and price investments

    In the crucial fourth quarter of 2019, comparable sales at Carrefour rose by 3.1% to 21.7 billion euro. For the full year, there was also comparable growth of 3.1%: sales amounted to 80.7 billion euro. But behind that positive figure we see conflicting trends. On the French home market, sales fell 2.4% in the fourth quarter, mainly as a result of weak performance of the hypermarkets (-3.4%). Strikes did not boost sales. Supermarkets and convenience stores did grow.
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    In Belgium, comparable sales declined by 1.1% to 1.1 billion euro in the fourth quarter. For the full year, sales amounted to 4.2 billion euro, down 1.5%. The market remains difficult, says the retailer, who also points to the price cuts implemented by Carrefour in November. Food transition initiatives are positive, however, according to the press release: the development of organic, local and private label products is showing good results. It has just been announced that a new but familiar name should put the retailer in Belgium back on track: it is Fran?ois-Melchior de Polignac, who was also CEO between 2013 and 2017.

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    Growth for e-commerce

    In the rest of Europe, Italy keep struggling, with a comparable 2.6% decline in turnover for the full year, while Spain (+0.1%) is picking up and the Eastern European countries Poland (+4.9%) and Romania (+3.6%) are posting good growth figures. However, Brazil (+10.4%) and Argentina (+52.3%) in particular give the figures more colour.
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    The retailer emphasises that e-commerce turnover in food increased by more than 30%, and profitability at group level improved significantly. Top executive Alexandre Bompard describes 2019 as an important milestone for the group: "Our transformation plan is bearing fruit. The numerous initiatives in the areas of food transition, e-commerce and competitiveness are perceived positively by our customers and confirm the relevance of our omnichannel model.”

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