Four difficult years after opening supermarkets in Japan, Carrefour has thrown in the towel. One of the worlds biggest retailers, Carrefour has reported earnings that just missed forecasts. Selling it’s eight Japanese stores is part of a wider plan to boost profitability outside its French home market. In Japan Carrefour misunderstood the needs of a demanding clientele in an already saturated sector. According to new Chief Executive Jose Luis Duran, “This is a year of new beginnings, I don’t want to put pressure on the staff. We are not going to make any promises we cannot keep. The essence is how to return Carrefour to growth, we have the means.”
Carrefour is the worlds second largest retailer beaten only by Wal Mart. The American giant is worth considerably more though, at more than 137 billion euros. Home Depot is third in the list with Germany’s Metro coming in at fourth. Carrefour makes half its sales in France. Here fierce retailer rivalry, high unemployment and prudent consumers have dogged the chain. Now Carrefour is promising to invest at least 300 million euros this year to lower prices in France. Last year the company’s net operating profit fell 15% to almost 1.4 billion euros. Worldwide the company is pledging to open a million square metres of selling space this year. It’s aim is to become one of the top three players in all the markets where it is present.