The French distribution world has been turned upside down: for the first time Carrefour has lost its position as market leader. Market research agency Kantar WorldPanel did the math and concluded that challenger E.Leclerc in the four weeks from 22 April to 19 May obtained a market share of 19.9%, compared to 19.6% for Carrefour.
Sooner than expected
CEO Michel-Edouard Leclerc had predicted this a few weeks ago: “We will be bigger than Carrefour in 2014 and not, as said earlier, somewhere in 2015.” He has been proven right, but much sooner than expected. The study “Référenseigne Flash” of Kantar WorldPanel showed that Leclerc had a market share of 19.9% (+1.2% on a yearly basis) in the period from 22 April to 19 May, while Carrefour stranded at 19.6% (-0.8%) in those same four weeks.
Over a period of twelve months Carrefour still has the largest market share, but “it is a clear signal that the gap between the groups E.Leclerc and Carrefour has been melting away the past few months”, the authors of the study write in a confidential document, which was handed to the distributors on Tuesday and which could be looked into by French paper Le Figaro.
New joint venture in Africa
In the meantime Carrefour seems to be focussing more and more on Africa. The giant from Boulogne-Billancourt signed a letter of intent at the end of May to start a joint venture with African distributor CFAO. CFAO will have 55% of the shares, the other 45% are for Carrefour.
The joint venture would give Carrefour the chance to open stores in countries such as Cameroon, both Congos, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal. The first Carrefour hypermarket has to open in 2015 in Abidjan, the largest city in Ivory Coast.