Sara Gay Forden, Bloomberg
Milan: Carrefour SA, the world’s second-largest retailer, is in talks with three to four potential Indian partners as it expands outside France to capture growth stronger than that in the company’s domestic market.
“We are looking for opportunities to grow our existing market share,” Chief Executive Officer Jose Luis Duran said today in an interview at a European retail conference in Milan. “We are looking for opportunities which have the right commercial fit and can also add value.”
Duran said he expects to pick a partner in coming months for India, the world’s second-most-populous nation. Spending at store chains in the country will surge 15-fold to $60 billion (Rs2,45,351 crore) by 2015, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. Local companies such as Reliance Retail Ltd are speeding store openings in anticipation that the government will open the market to foreign competitors.
Carrefour, which generates half its sales in France, accelerated its expansion in emerging markets last month by agreeing to buy Brazilian retailer Atacadao. The Paris-based company has stores in places from Thailand to Colombia.
The retailer has opened more emerging-market outlets to compensate for discounting in France. Carrefour’s French revenue rose 1.6% in the last quarter, while sales in Latin America advanced 10%.
The stock rose 6 cents, or 0.1%, to 54.51 euros in Paris today. It has advanced 19% this year, heading for a third annual climb in a row.
Duran didn’t comment on a 29 March report by El Pais that Carrefour and Bridgepoint Capital Ltd are among companies interested in bidding for Caprabo, a Spanish supermarket chain.
The CEO said Carrefour is speeding up the pace at which it opens new superstores to about 100 a year from about 40 annually between 2000 and 2004.
“Our operating strategy is pretty clear, which is to accelerate our core business,” he said.