Carrefour France’s CEO discusses reorganising store operations

Date : 14 December 2020

Jon Wright

Head of Insight - RA EMEA

In an interview with France-based trade publication LSA, Carrefour France’s chief executive, Rami Baitieh, has discussed the retailer’s TOP project, which aims to reorganise in-store operations. However, the plan has had to be paused, due to a Court order, resulting from a case brought by the CGT trade union.

TOP aimed to improve stores’ economic performance…

Baitieh launched TOP (an acronym standing for Team Organisation Project) to establish a new in-store structure and workflows to help optimise the supply of ambient and fresh departments and improve shopper satisfaction. While mainly aimed at Carrefour’s hypermarkets, elements of TOP could be rolled out to the retailer’s supermarkets too.

The project has been trialled at about 60 stores since summer 2020. It aims to drive efficiency by separating staff into three teams:

  • Back-office: employees will be dedicated to store replenishment, making sure inventory levels are right, amongst other tasks
  • Front office: employees on the shop floor, who are in contact with shoppers to help and advise them
  • Scan: using data staff will identify any potential problems of execution (such as on-shelf product availability, pricing and promotional accuracy, and shrinkage, amongst others) and will oversee how they can be fixed

The focus on each area optimises the time staff spend on each task and aims to increase product availability, while lowering breakages. The new organisation should generate operational cost savings, through better productivity, which Carrefour can invest in its operations more widely or in prices to remain competitive with discounters and value-focused rivals.

…Following roll out globally

Baitieh explained TOP had been first rolled out in Carrefour’s operations in Asia before being trialled in Poland, Romania, Spain, and Argentina. He supported TOP’s success by highlighting the improvement in performance at the hypermarket in Ormesson-sur-Marne, where the sales performance and customer satisfaction both rose, while markdowns and breakages both fell.

To roll out the new process Baitieh said an internal team of about 20 staff members visited each store in turn to train and support existing employees. Training required each team to understand the changes to their processes and the benefits that it would bring to them and their wider operations. One the advantages highlighted is that team members can move more easily between departments and categories than previously as the training is not specific to any one area, thus providing in-store

Retailers reviewing in-store operations

Carrefour is not the only retailer looking at how to staff and operate its stores now. Netherlands-based Albert Heijn is also aiming to update its in-store processes to enable it to be even more competitive in the short term. With retailers needing to maximise the profitability of their store estates as the online channel grows its share, there will be an increasing focus on in-store processes in the medium term. For suppliers it will be key to keep track of how these changes impact on their categories. Also, they may create new opportunities and challenges, with the increased focus on maintaining on-shelf availability requiring further changes in their own supply chains, demand planning and processes too.

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