China targeted for 20 stores
French supermarket chain Carrefour will double the number of hypermarkets it opens each year around the world to 100 with at least 20 of these in China.

The venture from the world's second largest retailer came as it revealed slightly worse than expected third quarter trading figures yesterday, showing sales up 6.8 per cent to Eu22.1 billion (£14.93 billion).

The average analysts' prediction was for sales to grow to Eu22.24 billion (£15.03 billion).

Half of the company's sales came from its home market in France where like-for-like sales grew 2.4 per cent generating Eu10.62 billion (£7.18 billion).

Carrefour's chief executive officer Jose Juis Duran told Reuters: 'Globally our sales are satisfactory. Growth remains sustained in all geographic areas, mainly in France, across all [store] formats. We are satisfied but prudent, because the economic situation remains fragile.'

He added that Carrefour's 1,000th hypermarket would open on October 28 in China and that the aim to 'double hypermarket openings worldwide' would 'be the case this year and remains the target for next year and 2008'.

Carrefour is one of at least four major international retailers - along with Tesco and the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart - that are looking to gain a foothold in the lucrative Indian market.

A decision by Bharti Enterprises on which foreign retailer it will choose as a joint venture partner is due by the end of the month.

For the full year Carrefour said that it still expected sales growth to beat that of last year, which was 4.3 per cent when adjusted for exchange rates.

Deutsche Bank described the results as strong and said that they exceeded its expectations - particularly in non-food sales in France, which had stabilised.