By  on October 13, 2011

PARIS — The market is losing confidence in Carrefour SA, the world’s second-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Shares in Carrefour closed down 5.9 percent Thursday at 16.85 euros, or $22.91 at current exchange, in trading on the Paris Bourse, as the embattled grocer cut its full-year operating income target to an expected decrease of up to 20 percent. It was after several profit warnings in the last year.

Blue Capital, the investment fund owned by Groupe Arnault and Colony Capital, is Carrefour’s largest investor, holding 13.5 percent of its capital.

During a conference call on Thursday, Pierre-Jean Sivignon, Carrefour’s chief financial officer, said the retailer’s August guidance of about a 15 percent decrease from restated 2010 figures remains the internal target, with management continuing to implement its plans on that basis.

Carrefour has started its “reset” action plan to drive recovery in hypermarkets, with a commercial strategy that involves shifting investments from promotions to constant lower pricing. “We recognize that the overall economy and consumer sentiment has become more uncertain and this has impacted discretionary spending in Q3,” Sivignon said.

Carrefour’s sales in the three-month period through Sept. 30 increased 0.3 percent to 22.79 billion euros, or $32.26 billion, versus the equivalent year-ago period. In the first nine months of the year, sales increased 1.9 percent to 67.35 billion euros, or $94.78 billion.

Currency conversions were made at average exchange rates for the period.

Blaming poor summer weather conditions, particularly in the month of July, revenues in France, Carrefour’s biggest market, increased 0.5 percent in the third quarter versus 1.6 percent in the second quarter.

Like-for-like hypermarket sales were down 2.2 percent, with customer traffic down by 5.6 percent.

Carrefour said it continues to log growth in emerging markets, with a 5.3 percent increase in sales at constant currency rates, supported by positive like-for-like sales in Brazil and ongoing expansion in Latin America and Asia. Total sales in Latin America in the third quarter rose 6.8 percent, to 4.29 billion euros, or $6.07 billion.

Sivignon cited a drop in discretionary spending in China, impacted by inflation and tight local regulations on nonfood promotions.

Carrefour is on track with the rollout of its Carrefour Planet hypermarket concept, he said. By yearend, 82 Carrefour Planet stores are expected to be in operation.

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