French retailer Carrefour returning to Algeria - source

Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:08am EDT
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By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS (Reuters) - Carrefour (CARR.PA: Quote) is preparing to return to Algeria after a six-year absence, as part of a drive to tap booming consumer demand in Africa.

The world's second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart (WMT.N: Quote) will open a hypermarket in Algiers by the end of June, a source close to the matter told Reuters.

The company operating the store is a joint-venture, 70 percent-owned by Carrefour Tunisia and 30 percent by a fund controlled by the Algerian state, the source said.

Carrefour declined to comment.

Carrefour entered Algeria in 2006, teaming up with local private holding company Arcofina. However, in 2009 the pair ditched the venture after opening only one of a planned 18 stores. Arcofina cited development roadblocks such as difficulties in securing land.

Rising incomes and an underdeveloped retail sector have made Africa an important new growth destination for retailers and consumer goods companies, with the likes of Danone (DANO.PA: Quote), Pernod (PERP.PA: Quote) and Diageo (DGE.L: Quote) boosting investments to counter weak growth in Europe.

The World Bank forecasts Algeria's economy will grow 3.3 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2016 -- more than double rates expected for the euro zone.

Small independent grocers dominate Algeria's retail sector, where Carrefour would compete with Numidis, the retail unit of agro-food conglomerate Cevital, which had a 1 percent share of the 2014 local retail market by value, according to Euromonitor.   Continued...

A customer pushes a shopping trolley as she arrives at the Carrefour's Bercy hypermarket in Charenton Le Pont, near Paris, August 29, 2013.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau