It's Carrefour's Planet. We just live in it


So the incoming president of Loblaw has worked at the world's two largest retailers: Walmart and France's Carrefour. We all know about Walmart. But Carrefour?

Founded in 1957, Carrefour operates across Europe, China and other parts of Asia, Brazil, Argentina and North Africa. The closest Carrefour-owned store you'll find to Canada is in the Dominican Republic.

If Walmart is known for perfecting the discount department store, then Carrefour's claim to fame is the hypermarket–a combination of department store and grocery store that in North America we commonly call a supercentre.

Carrefour launched its first hypermarket back in the 1960s but a few years ago began having some problems with it. Sales at hypermarkets were declining even as its conventional stores were growing.

In response the company last August launched Carrefour Planet, a "reinvention" (Carrefour's words, not mine) of the hypermarket concept. I'm told that Carrefour interviewed tens of thousands of shoppers before it launched the concept.

Vicente Trius, Loblaw's incoming president, was responsible for opening Carrefour Planet stores in European countries outside of France.

Carrefour Planet stores, by the way, are quite funky. So it's interesting to speculate what Trius thinks of Loblaw's Supercentres, and what he could perhaps do to add a little flair to the format.

If you want to check out Carrefour Planet I highly recommend you watch this promotional video. It comes from Malherbe, a retail design firm involved in creating the hypermarket's new look. It's over the top, but does suggest that Loblaw, with it's success in clothing through Joe Fresh, is better positioned than any retailer in Canada to generate an exciting hypermarket format.

Besides, a lot of those Supercentre stores are getting kinda old. Aren't they due for a reinvention?

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