Carrefour Q1: coronavirus boost hides wider positive developments

Jon Wright
Head of Insight - RA EMEA
@RetailAnalysis

Date : 30 April 2020

Carrefour reported first quarter sales, with like-for-like (LFL) sales rising 7.8%. Although the performance benefited from ‘precautionary purchases in March’, driven by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown conditions in its European operations, the retailer enjoyed ‘a solid performance in January and February’.

Quarter, especially March, affected by impact of coronavirus

Carrefour said its operations globally had seen ‘fairly similar consumption behaviors… as the pandemic spread and governments took lockdown decisions’. It said as shoppers understood lockdown measures were going to be implemented it saw a ‘strong increase in sales… mainly in dry groceries and products with long shelf lives’. It noted this development benefited all its store formats and ecommerce with ‘traffic and average basket [hitting] record levels’.

After lockdown measures came into effect, Carrefour said shoppers adapted their buying habits, favouring ‘proximity and supermarkets… at the expense of hypermarkets’. It said while it saw shoppers visiting stores less, the ‘average basket increased significantly’. Grocery ecommerce continued to see good growth and saw total growth of 45% in the quarter.

First quarter highlights differences between food and non-food sales

Carrefour said total sales rose 7.5% to €19.4 bn at constant exchange rates, with like-for-like sales rising by 7.8%. The retailer highlighted the contrast in performance between its food ranges, which enjoyed LFL growth of 9.9%, while non-food LFL sales contracted by 3.5%.

By geography, Carrefour reported:

France

LFL sales increased by 4.3% at a country level, food: LFL +5.9%, non-food: LFL -6.1%. Its hypermarkets saw LFL +0.9%, with an improved performance in January and February lasting into March during the precautionary buying phase. However, once the lockdown came into effect, the channel suffered from shoppers choosing proximity formats.

Supermarkets saw LFL sales rise 8.1% and convenience saw ‘excellent momentum’ with LFL up by 11.0%. Both benefited from their proximity to the shopper, with supermarkets being aided by their ‘intermediate positioning… and broad choice’.

Europe

In Spain, LFL sales rose by 6.6%, while in Italy there were up by 2.5%, with its presence in the north of the country, which was badly affected by the lockdown, the retailer said its multiformat strategy had been a benefit. In the other markets Carrefour saw LFL sales rise in Belgium (+6.2%), Poland (+8.8%) and Romania (+9.7%).

Latin America

In the region it said LFL sales growth reached 17.1%, with a rise of 7.6% recorded in Brazil and 70% in Argentina in the same terms. In Brazil, total sales were up by 12.2% with the like-for-like growth being supported by openings contributing growth of 4.3%. Its Atacadão format continued to perform strongly, with LFL growth of 7.0% and new openings, of which there were four in Q1, contributing a further 6.0%.

Taiwan

In Taiwan Carrefour reported LFL sales rose 6.0%. It noted that the effects of the ‘COVID-19 pandemic… were less marked than in other Group geographies’. Its performance during the quarter had benefited from a successful Chinese New Year and from the integration of eight Taisuco stores in 2019.

Carrefour confirms strategic objectives

Despite the impact of coronavirus on its operations, Carrefour confirmed it was remaining focused on delivering its operational and financial objectives:

Operational objectives:

  • Improve Group NPS of +15 points between 2020 and 2022
  • Reduce hypermarket’s selling areas by 350,000 sq. m globally by 2022
  • Reduce assortments by 15% by 2020
  • Enable Carrefour-branded products to account for one-third of sales in 2022
  • Open 2,700 convenience stores by 2022

Financial objectives:

  • Generate €4.2 bn in food ecommerce sales in 2022
  • Generate €4.8 bn in sales of organic products in 2022
  • Reduce costs over three years by €2.8 bn on an annual basis by end 2020. It will look to continue cost-reduction efforts beyond 2020
  • Dispose of €300m of non-strategic real estate assets by 2022

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