When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Mega-store Carrefour’s New Strategy To Counter E-Commerce

After booming 2010 Internet shopping results, the French hypermarché chain tries to reinvent the superstore

PARIS - There isn't always a link between cause and effect, but there sure are signs of it in 2010 shopping sales. On the one hand, the largest superstores, magnets of mass consumerism since the 1970s, have lost ground. By contrast, e-commerce has witnessed exponential growth.

As of mid-November, FEVAD (France's e-commerce and digital sales federation) estimated that over the course of 2010, the country's online business market would surpass 30 billion euros in sales. In 2005, internet-based sales stood at only 8.5 billion euros.

An increasing number of online businesses (73,200, and counting) -- and more online shoppers (27.2 million) -- are fueling the growth of a sector that began to hit its stride before the global financial crisis. In 2009, the industry posted 26 percent growth, up from 25 percent in 2008. The steepest growth of cyber-shopping is within older demographics, with an increase of 73 percent in new shoppers over the age of 65 and 82 percent among retired people in the last three months alone. In total, the 61 percent of older Internet users who do some shopping online is a figure edging closer to that of the 72.8 percent of French internet users who engage in e-commerce.

Christmas shopping figures seem to confirm this trend. Analysts projected ahead of Christmas that 2010 would be a good year for online businesses. More than 15 million consumers said they wanted to buy their gifts online. For 62 percent of shoppers, their online purchases would amount to 100 euros.

As shopping sites such as eBay, Amazon and PriceMinister watch their sales numbers steadily climb in France, the traditional superstores are facing some sobering statistics. According to Kantar's mid-year 2010 annual report, Carrefour lost 0.3 percent of market share in 12 months, Géant Casino 0.2 percent while Auchan held its position. It is a tendency that confirmed subsequent findings by the companies themselves – results that showed fewer visits across the board to these stores.

New strategy

Are "locavores," ecologically minded shoppers who prefer to stock up close to home, a potential game-changer for the megastores, or yet another short-term weakness? Carrefour, the world's second largest store chain, is betting on the former. Last year, Carrefour decided to break with the traditional model of "everything under one roof" by launching two pilot projects called Carrefour Planet in the Lyon suburbs of Ecully et Vénissieux.


The premise is simple: in certain areas, the superstore cannot compete even price-wise with specialty stores and online sites. The goal is therefore to concentrate the power of the brick-and-mortar store in specific sectors, often with the aid of name brands – clothing, housewares, beauty with L'Oréal for example, or pop culture with Virgin.

With regards to food, that means innovative efforts towards fresh produce as well as frozen and organic products. It is topped off with new services including eateries, hair dressers and child care within the stores.

A budget of 1.5 billion euros will be invested this year in transforming 500 superstores in Western Europe, 245 of which will become full-fledged Carrefour Planet stores. The year to come will tell us much about whether Carrefour can succeed in reinventing and reinvigorating the superstore.

Read the original article in French

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Last Boss: Messina Denaro's Death Marks The End Of An Era For The Sicilian Mafia

Eight months after being arrested, following 30 years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro died Monday. The son of a mobster and successor of Sicily's notorious boss of bosses, he had tried to transform Cosa Nostra into a modern criminal enterprise — with only partial success.

photo of Matteo Messina Denaro

Matteo Messina Denaro after his arrest

Carabinieri handout via ZUMA
La Stampa Staff

Updated Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:45 p.m.


PALERMO — Matteo Messina Denaro, who for more than a decade was the Sicilian Mafia's "boss of bosses," died on Monday in an Italian hospital prison ward. His death came eight months after being captured following decades on the run as a fugitive from justice. His arrest in January 15, 1993, came almost 30 years to the day after Totò Riina, then the undisputed head of the Corleone clan, was captured in Palermo.

Tracing back in time, Messina Denaro began his criminal ascent in 1989, around the first time on record that he was reported for mob association for his participation in the feud between the Accardo and Ingoglia clans.

At the time, Messina Denaro's father, 'don Ciccio', was the Mafia boss in the western Sicilian city of Trapani — and at only 20 years of age, the ambitious young criminal became Totò Riina's protégé. He would go on to help transform Cosa Nostra, tearing it away from the feudal tradition and catapulting it into the world of would-be legitimate business affairs.

For 30 years he managed to evade capture. He had chosen the path of ‘essential communication’: a few short pizzini - small slips of paper used by the Sicilian Mafia for high-level communications - without compromising information by telephone or digital means.

“Never write the name of the person you are addressing," Messina Denaro told his underlings. "Don’t talk in cars because there could be bugs, always discuss in the open and away from telephones. Also, take off your watches.”

Keep reading...Show less

The latest