Tue, Oct 07, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Carrefour to open three new outlets in western Japan


Carrefour SA, Europe's biggest retailer, will open three outlets to increase to seven its stores in Japan by the end of the year.

The Paris-based retailer will open the three outlets in western Japan in the cities of Higashi-Osaka, Amagasaki and Minou by December, said Chikako Ketcham, senior division manager at the company's marketing division in Tokyo.

Carrefour already has four outlets in operation -- one in Osaka and the rest in Tokyo and nearby areas.

Carrefour, which opened its first outlet in Makuhari in the outskirts of Tokyo in December 2000, faced difficulty expanding faster into Japan's retail market after misreading local consumer needs and alienating wholesalers.

At the same time, competition with local rivals such as Ito-Yokado Co and Aeon Co, Japan's two biggest retailers by sales, increased even as consumer prices fell.

The company in late 2001 reduced its plan for 13 Japanese stores by the end of this year to seven, local media reported at the time.

Asked about the company's expansion plans in Japan into next year, Ketcham said: "Our stance is that we'll see how things will go at these three outlets and decide on it later based on the outcome."

To lure more shoppers, the new stores will provide a wider range of "daily use products" such as milk and other necessities, Ketcham said.

The company found that the range at its present stores isn't wide enough to meet consumer needs, she said.

"Just like how consumers feel comfortable shopping at other general merchandise stores, the first thing for us to do is to have that kind of availability for our consumers," Ketcham said.

"So in terms of how our outlets will look, they will be pretty close to those of the Japanese general merchandise stores. We'll also add our own Carrefour tastes on top of that," she said.

Carrefour, which expanded into overseas markets in 1973 by opening a store in Spain, currently has about 9,500 outlets in 30 countries, according to its Web site. Carrefour Japan, with capital of ?3.21 billion, employs more than 2,028 people, it said.

Separately, the company said today it plans to invest US$800 million to expand in South Korea in the next four years.

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