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Origin and beginnings of the Sign
In Annecy, Marcel Fournier exploits big store resulting from the transformation of a drapery founded in 1822. Since 1946, during the travels he made in the United States to return visit his brother, Marcel Fournier could observe the development of the "supermarkets", large surfaces established on the periphery of the cities. At his return in France, he associates to Louis Defforey, a tradesman of Lagnieu (in the area Ain), to create a small food distributive firm in self-service.The two future founders of Carrefour note the success of Edouard Leclerc but estimate to be able to go further. This one feeling all set selling groceries in badly arranged hangars, Fournier and Defforey agree to create an American looking supermarket, well enlightened, bringing the desire of buying, offering products at discount
A first supermarket opens in Annecy in 1959. "At the beginning, I wanted to call this store ' Agora', told Marcel Fournier a little later. And then I thought myself that people would probably believe that I was selling cats ". The building where the department store must be located, logically, at the crossing of five streets, in the central district of Parmelan: the name "Carrefour" imposes itself naturally. Thanks to an effective advertising campaign (gifts are promised for first customers) and with the establishment on the parking place of a gasoline station sold at cost price, the success is fast and another supermarket opens in April 1963 in the suburbs of Notch-Gévrier, always in Annecy.

National expansion
Fournier and Defforey wish to duplicate quickly this gaining concept on a large scale. June 15, 1963, Carrefour opens in Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois in Essonne its first hypermarket (term that doesn't exist yet and which will be invented in 1966 by Jacques Pictet, founder of the review Self-services Current events). For the first time, this store of 2500 m² proposes under the same roof and in self-service, food and bazaar, textile and electric household appliances... More than 5000 customers rushed in the store the first Saturday.
This success encourages naturally Carrefour to develop, in particular with bigger and bigger department stores. In 1966, Carrefour establishes in Vénissieux (in the Lyon suburb) on 10000 m². This "factory to be sold" stupefies the opinion with its 2000 parking spaces, its 50 cashiers, its 20 000 products, its 2500 carriages and its opening into night up to 10 p.m.. In order to facilitate its expansion, Carrefour creates in 1967 its own power station of referencing, Samod (Modern Buying Company). The group has its place on the Stock market since 1970.
Noting the success of the Carrefour formula, competitor groups of distribution decide to open their own hypermarkets agreements of frankness with the pioneer of the generalist department store . In 1969, the Docks du Nord -Mielle Group exploits its first Carrefour hypermarket in Garges les Gonesse (this group creates its own sign, Cora, in 1975). Same strategy with the hypermarket of Mondeville (close to Caen) inaugurated in 1970 by the family Halley (Promodès); since 1972, the hypermarkets managed by Promodès take the Sign of Continent.
Beginning of the 1970's is also marked by the race of being a giant of sale surfaces. In 1970, the hypermarket of Vitrolles (close to Marseille), is inaugurated on 18 000 m². In 1972, Carrefour establishes on 23 000 m² in the Portet-sur-Garonne (in the south of Toulouse), what makes him till today the largest hypermarket in Europe.
The 1970's and 1980's are marked by a very strong progression of the establishments of Carrefour in the majority of the areas of France.
In 1991, the repurchase of the Montlaur hypermarkets and Euromarché makes it possible for the group to double the number of its hypermarkets in France.
In 1997, Carrefour increases its French stores status (in particular hypermarkets) via OPA that he launches on Promodès. Between 1997 and 1999, Carrefour joins again with the development of frankness concept and takes back under its own sign the ex Mammouth stores exploited by the Modern Comptoirs groups, Coop Atlantique, and Guyenne and Gascogne, as well as the ex Continent stores exploited by the Rhone-alpine group Hyparlo. In 1998, Carrefour acquires the Comptoirs Modernes. These various operations occurred at the end of 1990 allowing the group to be present on the supermarket and food convenient stores crenels.

In 2005, Daniel Bernard, who gave to the ensign its second world rank, gives his demission for his functions, mainly because the hypermarkets in France lost market parts towards their competitors and because the hardware-discount on the one hand, and on the other hand because the action doesn't match anymore the high levels it reached before. He is replaced by Luc Vandevelde, supported by the Halley family, which had been number two in Promodès before becoming the owner of Marks & Spencer.

International expansion
After a first wave of unfruitful development of frankness since 1969, where Carrefour establishes in Great Britain, in Germany, in Italy and Switzerland (before leaving these various countries quickly even if it is re-implanted now in the last two quoted countries ), the true anchoring of Carrefour with foreign countries is started with the establishment in 1973 in Spain of hypermarkets carrying the ensign Pryca, contraction of "Precios y calidad"; since the repurchase to Promodès in 1997 of the Spanish hypermarkets "Continente", challenger of "Pryca", all the Spanish hypermarkets of Carrefour took again the ensign "Carrefour" in 2000.
The international expansion of Carrefour continues then in South America (establishment in Brazil in 1975 and Argentina in 1982).
The conquest of new countries to establishments of Carrefour with 'foreign countries begins again in 1989, with the openings of hypermarkets in Taiwan, in China and in the United States (country Carrefour leaves is in 1993). The repurchase of Euromarché makes it possible for Carrefour to develop in Portugal in 1991. In 1993, Carrefour re-establishes in Italy and opens its first Turkish hypermarket. In 1994. Carrefour inaugurates hypermarkets in Mexico and in Malaysia. The presence of the group in Asia is reinforced with establishments since 1995 in Hong Kong, in Korea and Thailand since 1996. In 1997, Carrefour inaugurates its first hypermarkets in Czech Republic, Indonesia and in Chile. In 1998, Carrefour establishes in Colombia. 2000 is marked by the arrival of Carrefour in Japan. Following the fusion with Promodès in 1999, Carrefour reinforces its presence in Spain (with the integration of the hypermarkets Continent) and establishes in Belgium in 2001 (with the passage under Carrefour ensign of 60 stores Maxi GB). 2002 is marked by the return of ensign Carrefour in Switzerland, via the resumption of the Jumbo stores in partnership with the Maus group. Finally, Carrefour develops also more sporadic establishments via partnerships and frankness with the Linked Arab Emirates, in Qatar, in Romania, in Dominican Republic, in Tunisia, in Egypt and in the DOM-TOM.


The omnipresence of Carrefour in a great part of the areas of the planet is quite revealing the role of pioneer the group plays in the development of the model of hypermarket. Indeed, Carrefour constitutes with Leclerc one of the most innovative ensigns of the large French food distribution.

Carrefour is the first French ensign wanting to offer an alternative to the products of famous brand names. In 1976, Carrefour throws "a stone in the pond" while launching the products, "without name [ brand ], also tasteful but less expensive products "The receipt is simple: Facing the oil crisis, Carrefour takes the place of the defender of purchasing capacity of the consumers by stripping around fifty of first need food products from any brand name and all elaborated packaging. These products, coming from the large industrialists factories, are offered at the lowest price but bring very good commercial margins. In 1985, Carrefour is the first hypermarket ensign to sign its products, adding that way a brand name to its distributor statute. Carrefour intends to show to its customers "that the price of a product is related to its composition, its ingredients, and that it is not enough to give a name to a product for it to be good or sure". Today, the Carrefour range counts nearly 3000 food an non-food products references and, added to those other brand names developed by ensigns like in particular Tex (textile), First Line (electric household appliances), Carrefour Bio, Qualité Carrefour, Reflets de France, (range of products coming from Promodès), Destinations Saveurs, Escapade Gourmande, and finally lately the mark "1" (" numbers 1 of the prices") for the first low prices.

Carrefour proposess a particularly high degree of centralization, which gives him a particularly strong identity inside each country of establishment. This identity is based on the assortment of the stores. In France, each Carrefour propose an offer of products relatively homogeneous, made up of 100 000 references. Indeed, once referred at Carrefour, a brand name and its products must be present in the entirety of the hypermarkets of the chain; the autonomy part left for assortment to each store is much more reduced. In order to facilitate its provisioning, Carrefour is associated to Sears and Oracle to create in 2000 the first world market of supply line of the distribution: the GlobalNetXchange platform. The homogeneity of the image Carrefour is also due to the strong resemblance of each one of its hypermarkets in terms of installation. Since 1997, the majority of the Carrefour are gradually re-implanted according to logic specific universes of consumption, models imitated since by several of its competitors. The idea is to distribute product offers by universe of consumption, each one proposing a pushed dramatizing, in particular for the textile rays, culture, house/arts of the table, like for the fresh rays. The last store Carrefour opened in France in Collégien in Seine-et-Marne, proposes a re-examined and corrected version (Anglo-Saxon) of these spaces of consumption, decorated in particular by the presence of new food rays such as the stands proposing the sale of fresh pastas, ice creams or fine chocolates…

The global and centralizer side of the ensign also find its illustration in the variation of the many concepts and ancillary services proposed to its customers in the enclosure even (or in the shopping malls) of its hypermarkets. Carrefour shares with Leclerc the statute of pioneer in the development of this type of services. In 1982, Carrefour creates its own card of payment, the Pass Card. This logic of development of financial services is reinforced by launching, in 1984, of the Insurances Carrefour. Towards the end of 1980, Carrefour follows the steps of Leclerc by creating its own stands of Polygone jewellery But This strategy of extension of the brand name, also imitated by the majority of the concurrent hypermarkets ensigns, faces new applications with the development of the travel agencies Carrefour Holidays since 1991, or the Automobile car-centres Service ( 1993 (sold to Feu Vert at the end of 2002). In 1995 are launched spaces for para-pharmacy "Health & Beauty", as well as Optical Carrefour spaces (left to Alain Afflelou in 2003). More recently, Carrefour invested the crenel of ticketting via the opening of Carrefour Spectacles stands.

Carrefour is also distinguished from other different distributors because of width of its notoriety, supported by a particularly effective strategy of communication. The slogan "With Carrefour, I positive", launched in 1988, is significant of its reputation. Since the beginning of the 2000's, Carrefour articulates its communication around the topic of "good-consuming". Thus, the signature "Carrefour, cause we grow every day" is born in 1999.
In 2004, an economic crisis obliges Carrefour to reinforce its image of distributor discount. Added to the development of the communication around its range of first price products of the system Carrefour Cash Ticket, the ensign launches a new system of reduction coupons , which proposes to the 5 million holders of its discount Carrefour card a reduction from 15 to 20 % on products of important consumption.
Carrefour was also the first food distributor to maintain a communication development proximity by developing its own brand name brochure, "the Carrefour Brochure", since 1980. Strong of this success, Carrefour published two other ensign newspapers with themes: magazines "Junior Club" (acquired from Continent) for the children and "knowledge Carrefour " for the cultural items.


The success of the ensign Carrefour leads the group gradually to want to extend its sphere of influence , as well in the specialized distribution as in the general food distribution.The first diversifications of Carrefour occurs at the end of the 1970's.

Carrefour makes first diversifications relating to different sectors of activity (in occurrence the specialized distribution) before progressively separating little by little from the majority of them with its requirements in treasury due to the reinforcement for its statute of generalist distributor. Among the various ensigns of which Carrefour partially - and temporarily - took control, we can in particular name Conforama (from 1977 to 1993), Metro (from 1978 to 2001), But (from 1989 to 1993) or Picard (from 1994 to 2001).

Carrefour preferred to privilege its expert side of general food distributor on different formats of stores. In 1979, Carrefour launches the chain of hardware discount ED. In December 1996, Carrefour creates the surprise by repurchasing 41,4 % of the actions parts of Cora-Révillon but is quickly obliged to resell this participation (at the end of 2001), following the fusion with Promodès. The successive repurchases occurred since 1998, allowed Carrefour to be from now on present on two new formats of stores, namely the supermarkets (Champion) and the food convenience stores (Marché Plus, Shopi, 8 Huit…). In 2000, Carrefour takes benefits in the sector of gasoline distribution concentration taking 17 motorways gasoline stations (as well as certain shops belonging to them) to establish its ensign.

The diversifications of Carrefour also concern the electronic commercial domain. In 2000, Carrefour launches the cybermarkets Ooshop and Multi-media Carrefour. The group also takes part in the Webcity gate and the Meubles.com website. Moreover, Carrefour faces between 2000 and 2002 different experiments of electronic trade which quickly appear unfruitful, at the instar of CarrefourDirect.com (virtual shops whose local provisioning was ensured by the taking away of the goods ordered in the hypermarkets of Lomme close to Lille and Orleans) or of the specialized sites Carrefour Beauty, Carrefour Gardens and Carrefour Wines…

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