Mixed first half for Carrefour franchisees

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The two franchise operators for the Carrefour retail group had
differing performances in the first half. Guyenne & Gascogne
showed solid growth during the six months, while Hyparlo's sales
suffered as a result of the disposal of its Italian stores earlier
in the year.

The two leading franchise holders for the French Carrefour group have reported mixed sales performances for the first half of 2003. While Guyenne & Gascogne showed solid growth, Hyparlo's sales were impacted by the disposal of its Italian unit.

G&G saw its consolidated group sales rise by 1.7 per cent during the half to €635.8 million, with increases from both the parent company and its subsidiaries. Sales at the parent company - which operates 6 hypermarkets 23 supermarkets in the south west of France - were in line with expectations, rising 3.4 per cent to €234.5 million.

Extensive refitting work at one of the group's hypermarkets restricted the number of customers through the store during the period, keeping hypermarket sales growth to just 0.7 per cent for the period. Without the impact of the refitting work - which was completed in May and has increased the floor space of the store to 6,000 square metres - hypermarket sales growth for the half would have been 2.4 per cent.

Sales at the Champion supermarket chain grew by 8.7 per cent during the half, or by 3.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

At Sogara, the subsidiary held jointly by G&G and Carrefour which operates 13 hypermarkets in France, the half was marked by the sale of the company's 11 car care centres in line with the strategy of focusing Sogara on the core business of the Carrefour group. Excluding the Centres Auto chain, sales growth at the subsidiary was 1.5 per cent.

Via Sogara, G&G also has a minority stake in Carrefour's Spanish subsidiary Centros Comerciales Carrefour, although results from the unit are not consolidated in G&G's accounts.

The company said that the end of refitting works and a number of major promotional programmes should boost sales further in the second half of the year, which would also be marked by an extension of a new discount own label range.

Meanwhile, Hyparlo​, the other main franchise operator under the Carrefour banner, reported sales down by 6.3 per cent for the half to €494.6 million due to the sale of its Italian unit to Carrefour at the start of the year.

However, this masked a good performance at the groups other operations in France, where it operates 12 hypermarkets, and Romania, where it has one store and another two in the course of being built.

Sales in France grew by 3.2 per cent to €471.3 million despite the slow down in consumer spending there, while Romanian sales rose 9.1 per cent to €23.3 million or by 15.5 per cent on a comparable exchange rate basis. The company claims to be one of the leading hypermarket operators in Romania, a country which it believes has significant growth potential.

While the first half figures were distorted by the sale of the Italian operations, the company said it expected to see a major boost in the second half helped by the reopening of its store in Orange after a major refit which effectively doubled the sales space, and by the opening of its second hypermarket in Romania.

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