Carrefour Sales Fall in France Amid Tougher Grocery Environment

Carrefour SA sales in France dipped less than expected as the supermarket chain faced a tougher environment for grocery demand.

By guest author Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg News

Comparable sales in the country, Carrefour’s biggest market, fell 0.3% in the fourth quarter excluding gasoline and calendar effects, the company said Wednesday. Analysts had expected a drop of 1.1%. In the same period a year ago, restaurants and bars were closed, prompting more at-home eating and bolstering the retailer’s performance.

Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard has been boosting the grocer’s e-commerce capabilities, with 3 billion euros ($3.41 billion) of digital investments planned through 2026. Bompard has also accelerated the chain’s efforts to make stores in France more efficient, yet the stock is trading below the level when he took over in 2017.

On Wednesday, February 16, 2022, Carrefour announced it will buy back up to EUR 750 million in shares this year following record net free cash flow generation in 2021 of EUR 1.23 billion.

Carrefour has been the subject of takeover speculation in recent press reports. Rival Auchan held talks with private equity funds about teaming up on a renewed bid for Carrefour, Bloomberg News reported last month. Carrefour’s talks over a sale to Canadian convenience-store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. collapsed in early 2021 amid strong opposition from the French government. Auchan later made an attempt that stalled.

Carrefour’s full-year recurring operating income rose 7.7 % at constant foreign exchange rates to EUR 2.27 billion compared with the EUR 2.29 billion that analysts expected.