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Economy
Published on July 25, 2006 at 4:24 PM BG
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French Carrefour supermarket chain to gain foothold in Bulgaria
Europe’s largest retail chain, and the second largest one worldwide, the French Carrefour supermarket chain will enter Bulgaria in the coming two years. Despite the delay, the oldest European supermarket chain is preparing to enter the Bulgarian market following the invasion of its more aggressive competitors – Metro Cash & Carry, Billa, Kaufland, Hit and others. Carrefour Bulgaria has been awarded a first class investor certificate for its plans to a Sofia-based hypermarket and a mall occupying a total area of 90,000 sq. m. The project is estimated to absorb an investment worth EUR 81.6 million. Moreover, the new facility will create some 2,300 jobs. The site is to open in 2008 and will be Carrefour’s largest project in the Balkans.

While awarding the certificate the Executive Director of the Bulgarian Investment Agency Stoyan Stalev hailed the Bulgarian launch of the global chain boasting an annual turnover of 93 billion euros and 436,000 strong staff.

“I should like to welcome Carrefour to Bulgaria, and to vow that we will be doing our best to support them. For us French investors are key – they are still but few, but are definitely first-class investors.”

For Radio Bulgaria the CEO of Carrefour Bulgaria Jerome Louber accentuated the special know-how that the French chain would bring to diversify the Bulgarian market.

“We will bring with us our serious experience of many years in building and managing supermarkets”, Mr. Louber said. “This experience has been acquired in 29 countries. We are in fact the pioneers of the hypermarket trade idea. This is a concept for mixed retail trade of alimentary and non-alimentary goods on a large-scale. We are market leaders in fresh foodstuffs’ trade. We will import here our know-how in this kind of trade, coupled with competitive pricing and a teamwork spirit. Some of our hypermarkets in Bulgaria will be combined with a shopping mall – this will be the case with our Sofia site. Carrefour has delayed its entry into Bulgaria following an expansion to many countries in 1990s. We needed some more time to properly expand our market positions in the Balkans, which is a very attractive zone for our business. Our successful entry into Greece and Cyprus plus a good Romanian start have allowed us to consider Bulgaria as well. Your country is experiencing an economic upsurge; it will join the EU soon, so the next 15-20 years look very promising. For us, retail chain No. 1 in Europe, Bulgaria is a market where we are willing to gain a foothold, and invest.”

The first class investor certificate awarded to Carrefour, is the 20th of its kind. This fact, Minister of Economy and Energy Rumen Ovcharov argued, heralds good economic prospects for Bulgaria. “An increasing number of serious companies have identified Bulgaria as an investment opportunity”, he pointed out. Statistics support his view. For the first 5 months of the year Bulgaria has attracted almost EUR 1.2 billion, which is EUR 500,000 million more on the same period in 2005.

Written by Maria Dimitrova
English version Daniela Konstantinova

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