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As Carrefour and Leclerc discuss online developments in Poland, we look at the two retailer’s contrasting views on the channel’s short term development in the country.

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The E Leclerc group is to spend €1bn transforming its digital operations over the next three years.

Digital transformation

The E Leclerc group is to invest €1bn to accelerate its digital transformation over three years. The investment, which aims to create 10,000 jobs, will reach up to 65m shoppers.

Centralised logistics

In a TV interview, CEO Michel-Edouard Leclerc stated that the money will be used to create a large internet portal with centralised logistics, commenting “In five years, my rival will no longer be Hyper U or Auchan but Amazon”. Leclerc did stress that the investment would not detract focus from the group’s physical stores, with no job losses planned at its supermarkets and hypermarkets as a result of its online expansion.

Developing Drive

Leclerc has previously confirmed that consumers' changing behaviour confirmed the retailer's decision to evolve towards multichannel. One of the cornerstones of this strategy - the Drive format - has continued to develop apace, with 111 new openings in 2014 to reach 557 (close to Leclerc's previously stated target of 600; it aims for 800 by 2016). Over EUR1.9bn of turnover was achieved via Drives in 2014. In addition to France, Leclerc is testing Drive in Poland, Spain and Portugal.

Conad, Colruyt, Coop Schweiz and Rewe Group have launched the new alliance, Core, established following Leclerc's exit from Coopernic.

New strategic alliance

The retailers have come together to create a new alliance called CORE. It is headquartered in Brussels and Rewe CEO, Alain Caparros, is its president. Total sales of the four retailers were around €88bn in 2013 which was more than the €84bn posted by Europe’s biggest retailer, Carrefour. In total, CORE will cover 18 European countries with about 20,000 stores.

The CORE Board of directors will consist of:

  • Colruyt Group: Frans Colruyt and Christophe Dehandschutter
  • CONAD: Francesco Pugliese and Mauro Lusetti
  • COOP Suisse: Joos Sutter and Philipp Wyss
  • REWE Group: Alain Caparros and Manfred Esser

Internationalisation of food retailing

By forming this group, the retailers believe they will be in a stronger position to compete. They hope to build stronger relationships with their FMCG partners and offer lower prices to customers.

Speaking about the alliance, CORE president, Alain Caparros, said: “CORE is designed to meet the growing competitive challenges in Europe and to address the increasing internationalization of food retailing. Through collective negotiations, we intend to offer more competitive prices to our customers... At the same time, we will continue to build internationally strong partnerships with predominantly FMCG companies. With a consolidated and successful management, CORE offers attractive growth perspectives for our suppliers.”

Leclerc's logistics subsidiary, Scarmour, is to install RFID (radio-frequency identification) readers at two warehouses in France, according to press reports.

Improved traceability

The RFID readers will be installed at Leclerc's DCs, within its trailers and at its retail outlets around Brittany, France. This system will enable the tracking of up to 300,000 to 400,000 pallets per year in real time. This information will be available through a cloud based application with the aim of inventory. The “cloud” is an IT setup where the physical processing of data is performed remotely and the output is available over a network – typically the internet.

Improved inventory accuracy

With the technology providing up to date inventory levels, in real time, it can boost availability across many channels. Céline Bourder, head of logistics at Scarmor, said: "It is valuable for our e-commerce as well as our Drive operations where customers must be supplied within two hours. The RFID limits out-of-stocks in the stores.”

2012 performance

Leclerc reported like-for-like sales growth of 5.8% and an increase of market share to 18.4% in 2012. Overall sales were up 7% to €34.9bn, excluding petrol. In 2013 the retailer anticipates sales growth of 5% and for market share to increase to 18.9%.


Leclerc is the second largest retailer in France and operates a regional co-operative model that keeps prices low for shoppers. Understand what this means for the supply chain in this two page guide, which also features the latest on its multichannel strategy and plans for the future.
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