Store chains pay far more taxes than internet platforms, which is untenable - according to Carrefour CEO Alexandre Bompard. He is therefore in favour of a tax that will bring an end to this fiscal imbalance, which is tabled in France but rejected for the whole EU.
“Equal turnover, equal taxes”
In an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, the CEO welcomes the fact that a such tax is finally coming: "It is necessary to end the fiscal imbalance between brands like ours and American or Chinese universal platforms," he believes. "We pay 83 different taxes. With a comparable turnover, we create four times as many jobs. Meanwhile, they dump their products on the market without even paying any VAT, and hardly any taxes. That is untenable. I am not asking for a favour, but a simple principle: equal turnover, equal taxes."
Earlier this month, France put forward a draft legislation to raise a 3 % turnover tax from major internet companies: minister Bruno Lemaire's bill targets internet giants such as Amazon, Facebook and >Google. Remarkably, Carrefour has just entered into an ambitious partnership with Google, but that did not stop the CEO from voicing a strong viewpoint. He also points out that Amazon and Alibaba have also entered the food market, which will drastically change their roles as competitors. The retailer has invested 2.8 billion euros in digitisation projects.
“Our reason for being is food transition”
In the same interview, Bompard emphasises that the 'everything under one roof' concept of hypermarkets is not dead, although in the future it may not be the same kind of roof, or the same kind of everything. "The physical roof over the store will need to be reduced so that our customers can shop faster. But while the surface space of stores will shrink, the store's reach must grow in order to attract new customers through all kinds of digital services, such as deliver or click&collect... And 'everything' means 'not too much': our assortment will have to be simplified and some categories will need to be dropped altogether. The 'everything' will also need to become more varied, with room for a restaurant, food transition and services."
Food transition is particularly important to Bompard. "We are the only ones who have taken on this mission at the heart of our model. Healthy quality food should not be a privilege for wealthy customers in major cities. We will extend the organic range in all of our stores with a thousand Carrefour Bio products, and all of our baby products will be organic by the end of the year. By 2022, Carrefour should be generating a turnover of 5 billion euros purely in organic products."
When asked whether a retailer needs to be an activist in today's world, Bompard replies: "Tomorrow's major companies are those whose ambitions go beyond their activities. Our reason for being is food transition for everyone. Because of our global presence, the number of customers we reach and the farmers we work with, we are the only ones who can transform the food model on a large scale." Every year, Carrefour invests a billion euros in French agriculture. Recently, the chain announced an additional 50-million investment to ensure that 95 % of the fruits and vegetables in their stores would be from France.