Carrefour brands head for China

French heavyweight Carrefour plans to have all three of its store types operational in China by the first quarter of 2004.

The retailer, which is determined to build its strength in the emerging market, will open the first Chinese Dia hard discount store by the end of next year.

It will then embark on a massive expansion drive and wants 300 of the 300 sq m Dia stores by the end of 2005.

Carrefour has 32 hypermarkets in China and will continue to open more such 10,000 sq m stores at a rate of 10 to 12 a year.

The retailer - the world's second biggest food player - will open its first supermarket by early 2004. The 2,000 sq m to 4,000 sq m format will give Carrefour another option in the Chinese market.

A Carrefour spokesman said that it has not yet been decided how many Chinese supermarkets there might be in the long term. The trading name has not yet been determined, but they could operate under the retailer's Champion banner.

Both Carrefour and Wal-Mart have pushed into China in recent years and the country is poised to become one of the world's most competitive food retail markets. Tesco has been investigating the market but has yet to find a local partner, which is essential for entry.