France-based Carrefour said total sales, at constant exchange rates and including VAT, fell by 0.8% (excluding various accounting changes) in the fourth quarter to €23.0bn. A better than expected result in France, where like-for-likes fell by only 0.1%, was aided by its performance in Latin America, but hindered by continued weakness in Europe, excluding France, and Asia.
France: hypermarkets’ performance offset by other channels
In its home market Carrefour said total sales rose 0.5% to €10.6bn, with total sales falling by 0.5% at its hypermarkets, but rising by 1.0% at its supermarkets and by 3.3% at its Other formats. In like-for-like terms this saw Carrefour see a fall of only 0.1% in France, with the 2.2% contraction at its hypermarkets balanced by a 1.9% rise at its supermarkets and 3.1% increase at its Other formats.
Carrefour said the ‘yellow vest’ protests had hit its hypermarkets and non-food sales the hardest. However, at a channel level this had had a positive effect on its other store formats, while it had seen a ‘good performance in food’, where it saw a ‘stable’ performance at its hypermarkets and ‘significant growth’ in other formats. At a category level, Carrefour said it had seen ‘growth momentum of organic products and e-commerce’.
Belgium and Italy limit progress elsewhere in Europe
At a European level total sales fell by 0.9% to €6.4bn, at constant exchange rates, and by 1.7% in like-for-like terms, excluding the petrol and calendar effects. Carrefour said total sales rose in three countries, Poland, Romania and Spain, while they fell in Belgium and Italy. However, in like-for-like terms sales also fell in Spain, underlining the boost given by its acquisition of Eroski stores in the country.
Across several countries Carrefour noted the continued competitive environment that existed, while it said that consumption had come under pressure in a couple. Turning around its performance in Belgium, Italy and Spain is likely to be challenging in 2019 given the market environment in the three countries and the continued expansion of leading rivals in them all.
While the positive performance of its operations in Poland and Romania will be welcomed by the retailer, they are by far its smallest markets in terms of revenue in Europe. As such, the market outperformance in Poland and success of Supeco in Romania are positive, but will not change the dial at a regional level for the retailer.
Latin America continues to benefit from strength of Atacadão format
The 12.9% increase in like-for-like sales in Latin America was underpinned by the growth of sales at its Atacadão format in Brazil and an acceleration of growth in Argentina. For more on the retailer’s performance in Brazil, read our story here. The like-for-like performance in Brazil, where total sales rose 10.2% in local currency terms, was driven by a 7.4% increase in like-for-like sales at Atacadão and an accelerated pace of store openings.
China continues to hold back performance in Asia
In local currency terms, total sales fell by 6.2% in Asia. The 8.9% fall in China was partially offset by a 0.2% increase in Taiwan. In China it saw a 6.2% fall in like-for-like terms, continuing a challenging performance in the country. Carrefour said recent strategic initiatives were taking effect, supporting ‘solid growth of e-commerce’ and leading to an ‘adaptation of [its] commercial model’.
For subscribers wanting to see how these changes are being activated in-store, see our visit to Carrefour Le Marche in Shanghai.
Results see Carrefour confirm group targets
The retailer said its Q4 results showed the positive effect of its 2022 transformation plan and the steps taken as part of this to improve its performance. As a result, Carrefour said it was able to confirm the main parts of its financial targets:
- A cost reduction plan of €2bn by 2020 on full-year basis;
- The disposal of non-strategic assets for €500m by 2020;
- €5bn food e-commerce sales in 2022;
- €5bn of organic products in 2022.