Fri, Aug 25, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Carrefour unveils six new stores nationwide

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN TAOYUAN

Allan Tien, second left, head of Carrefour Taiwan's development division, and other company officials yesterday attend the grand opening of the chain's Chingkuo branch in Taoyuan County.

PHOTO: HSIEH WU-HSIUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

French retail giant Carrefour yesterday completed its takeover of six Tesco outlets in Taiwan, following more than two months of remodeling and integration.

The deal has boosted the hypermarket chain's number of stores to 44 nationwide, nearly double the size of the next-largest market player, RT-Mart (大潤發), a Taiwanese-French venture with 23 outlets.

Carrefour's market share also jumped from 37 percent to 45 percent after the takeover.

The multinational's Asia chief executive officer, Noel Prioux, and Taiwan general manager, Loic Dubois, both attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony held in the former Chingkuo Tesco store in Taoyuan County.

Dubois, who was transferred from China to assume his new post in May, said Carrefour plans to change its product mix and increase shopping convenience to stimulate slow sales growth, in addition to continuing store expansion.

Affected by consumer bad debts and competition from what are now the ex-Tesco stores, Taiwan's Carrefour reported a 5.2 percent decline in revenues at comparable stores, which have been operating for over a year, in the second quarter.

Rivals RT-Mart and Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) both saw slight increases during the same period.

"We have confidence to record positive growth at like-for-like stores in the third quarter albeit at difficult times," Dubois told reporters yesterday.

Growth momentum would come partly from the introduction of a loyalty program which has already issued 1.5 million member cards and efforts to further drive down retail prices by strengthening its negotiations with suppliers, he said.

Having stayed in China for a total of nine years and Japan for three years, Dubois said Taiwan's retail market has matured and that providing basic products is no longer enough to meet consumers' high expectations.

He plans to import food products from countries, such as Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia, and increase the display section of home decoration products as he observed that the do-it-yourself (DIY) trend is catching on here.

Carrefour development head Allan Tien (田中玉) said sales from the six newly acquired stores were expected to increase 10 percent this year.

According to the retail giant's blueprint, it will open another four stores by the end of the year.

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