Carrefour is to pull out of Russia just months after opening its first stores in the country.

The retailer said its rapid departure came as it was unable to reach a “leadership” position in the market.

Carrefour opened its first hypermarket in Moscow in June, followed by a second store in Krasnodar. It was also seen as the likely buyer for Russian chain Seventh Continent.

Carrefour cited an “absence of sufficient organic growth prospects and acquisition opportunities” that would have allowed it to secure a profitable leadership position.

The retailer last week denied it was selling its operations in emerging markets after rumours it was considering exiting growth markets.

The move follows pressure from activist investors such as LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault to turnaround the company’s underperforming hypermarkets. It said it would not make a loss on its Russian venture that was “not significant”.