|Carrefour in Europe|
The very first Carrefour hypermarket opened in 1963 in Sainte Geneviève des Bois, France. The self-service concept, with "everything under one roof," was entirely new at the time. Drawing from its success at home, Carrefour expanded and exported its business model, starting, quite naturally, in Europe, opening the first Carrefour hypermarket abroad in 1969, in Belgium. Today, Europe is Carrefour's largest market, accounting for over 83% of the company's annual sales, at 68.4 billion euros (45.8% generated in France and 37.5% in other European countries). The Carrefour group has over 13,000 stores in Europe, each falling within one of four categories: hypermarket, supermarket, convenience store or hard discount store. The group's strength lies in its ability to tailor store formats to the specifics of local demand in each country, region and town where it is present. A complementary mix of store formats also contributes to the group's success, allowing it to better meet the expectations of all Carrefour customers. As a result, Carrefour has taken the lead in France, Belgium, Spain, Greece and Cyprus, and ranks among the top three retailers in Italy, Poland, Turkey and Romania. The group has also established presence in Portugal under the "Mini Preço" banner.
One of the group's main assets on the European market relates to having two drivers of growth: mature countries and growth countries.
The group's four mature markets are France, Spain, Belgium and Italy, which together account for over 72% of our sales. Despite the economic backdrop in these countries, with competition and market consolidation, the Carrefour group can count on several key assets that have ensured its leadership position in each of the four. The Carrefour brand is one of the most well-known and well-appreciated on the market. The group's multi-format model is the key to meeting a very diverse set of customer lifestyles and continually changing needs. Finally, each store's product offering corresponds with the purchasing power of its customers. Carrefour stores are among the least expensive within each of the group's trading areas. Each store also tailors its product offering to best suit local culture. In Italy, for instance, 89% of own-brand food products are locally produced. Carrefour intends to continue its expansion in these mature markets by leveraging the aforementioned assets and continually adapting to specific lifestyles and consumption patterns.
On Europe's growth markets, in fact, Carrefour is synonymous with modern business practice. From very early in the 1990s, the group had the foresight to establish presence in promising markets, such as Greece (1991), Turkey (1993), Poland (1997) and Romania (2001). Everywhere they are located, Carrefour stores are appreciated for their low prices, modernity, quality products, and customer services. Carrefour has continued its expansion on these markets, via its multi-format, single-banner strategy and organic growth and acquisitions. The multi-format approach significantly boosts the group's development potential on these growth markets. It also serves as a powerful tool for accelerating the group's expansion and strengthening its market share. In Romania, for example, Carrefour became a market leader after buying the 21 Artima supermarkets, which are in the process of being transformed into Carrefour Express stores.
Finally, the Carrefour Group is keeping a constant eye on the new opportunities cropping up on the growth markets. This includes plans to establish stores in two additional countries experiencing rapid growth: Russia, a market with very strong potential given its population of 142 million, and Bulgaria. The first two stores in Russia are expected to open during the first half of 2009. In Bulgaria, where the current business structure and level of development are comparable to Romania's context of a few years ago, Carrefour plans to open its first hypermarket in late 2008, in Sofia.