Faced with falling sales at its stores in Belgium, French retailer Carrefour is to close 21 of them and sell off as many as 20 more by the end of June.
The world’s second largest retailer will lay off nearly 1,700 of its 16,000 workers in Belgium.
The unions blamed uninspired management for Carrefour’s problems
Union representative Patrick Savauche said: “Why are our competitors doing better than us? Because they have a strategy, they have good prices. Here, at Carrefour, we’ve never had that. Which isn’t the fault of the workers, that I’m sure about.”
But Carrefour Belgium’s boss, Gerard Lavinay, said the problems are structural and because the workforce is too expensive compared with other stores around Europe.
He told reporters: “The problems of Carrefour Belgium, the problems with a cost structure that is abnormal and different from that of our competitors, that’s specific to Belgium.’‘
Carrefour’s Belgian operations have struggled for years amid intense competition from Belgian groups Delhaize and Colruyt and discounters Aldi and Lidl.
The group does plan to invest 300 million euros over the next three years to refurbish the Belgian stores it is keeping and to try to cut costs it will
renegotiate contracts with suppliers.