MEXICO CITY -- Carrefour S.A., the French mass merchant, said it signed an initial joint venture agreement with Grupo Gigante S.A. de C.V. to develop hypermarkets in Mexico.

The companies said the stores will have sales areas of more than 86,000 square feet. The venture will be managed by Carrefour. Grupo Gigante operates 193 stores in 50 cities in Mexico.

Hypermarkets, outsized stores that sell groceries and general merchandise, were a flop in the U.S. Carrefour and another big French retailer, Leedmark, pulled out of the U.S. market last year. Wal-Mart is the only major retailer still operating hypermarkets, but it has said it will not add any new ones to the four it already has, preferring to concentrate on its supercenter format.

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