French retail group Carrefour published strong growth figures in all countries in the first quarter. This is not only due to panic buying caused by the corona crisis: the improvement was already underway in the beginning of the year.
Market share gains in Belgium
Carrefour achieved comparable growth of 7.8% and realised a turnover of 19.4 billion euros. This is more than most analysts had anticipated. According to the group, the year began strongly in January and February, when comparable growth was already 4.5%. On top of that came a hefty 'corona bonus' in March.
The progress is remarkable in all countries where the group is present: comparable growth is 4.3% in France, 6.1% in the rest of Europe, 17.1% in Latin America and 6.0% in Taiwan. The retailer points to a strong contrast between food (+9.9%) and non-food (-3.5%). E-commerce in food improved by as much as 45%, with sales of organic products up 30%.
In France, growth was driven mainly by supermarkets (+8.1%) and proximity stores (+11.0%): hypermarkets experienced limited growth of 0.9%. Belgium achieved quarterly sales of 1.053 billion euros, a comparable growth of 6.2%. Market share increased, also in the period before the coronavirus outbreak. This is an important boost for the company. The other European countries also performed well: +2.5% in Italy, +6.6% in Spain, +8.8% in Poland and +9.7% in Romania.
"Very atypical quarter"
The group is well on track to meet the objectives of the strategic plan Carrefour 2022 and is therefore continuing its ongoing operational interventions: further reducing the sales area of hypermarkets, rationalising the range, expanding private labels and accelerating the expansion of convenience stores.
“The COVID-19 pandemic creates a serious and unprecedented situation,” says Alexandre Bompard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “I would like to salute the exceptional commitment shown by the Group's teams in ensuring continuity of supply and access to food for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. In the exercise of these essential missions, the protection of our employees and customers has been our obsession and we have multiplied measures and investments to this end from day one. In a very atypical quarter, our sales were boosted in January and February by the success of strategic initiatives that we launched two years ago, then experienced a notable acceleration in March. They thus recorded sustained growth over the entire period and in all our regions.”