Carrefour tests ‘soft discount’ at Belgian-French border


In Valenciennes (in France, near the border with Belgium), Carrefour has opened its first French Supeco store. That is the first of five pilot stores, where the retailer will test a combination of supermarket, discount and cash&carry.


Hybrid concept

The first Supeco store is, according to Carrefour, a "hybrid concept" that combines a traditional concept with cash&carry that the group calls "soft discount". With 2,000 references, its product range is a lot smaller than the 15,000 that an average Carrefour Market - the format that formerly occupied the store - offers. The second French Supeco is to open soon in neighbouring Onnaing, also in a former Market. Three more pilot stores are said to follow soon.


Despite the discount feel to the store, it is by no means like the Spartan store that its Spanish namesakes are. While the latter feel more like a storage facility where customers are allowed in, the French version features a fresh butchery and bakery. What the stores do not do, however, is offer services that are commonplace in most French supermarkets - think of pick-up points for e-commerce, a petrol station and car rentals.


It is no coincidence that Carrefour tests its new discount concept in this region, general director Pascal Clouzard told local newspaper La Voix du Nord: Valenciennes is - to put it euphemistically - a "very price-sensitive region". France is the fifth country in which the Supeco brand is launched, following Spain (23 stores), Romania (15), Poland (2) and Italy (1).