CFAO launches its first Carrefour supermarket in Senegal

CFAO has launched its first Carrefour supermarket in Senegal. It is a major landmark for the French supermarket chain, which first outlined plans for 100 stores in Sub Saharan Africa by 2020 six years ago.

Carrefour’s new supermarket has opened under the Carrefour Market banner, its preferred format so far in West Africa. The new store will be situated centrally in Point E in Dakar, and have a retail space of 800m² – comparable to its Bonamoussadi (Douala) store in Cameroon. CFAO is aiming to keep prices in line with those of Auchan (which has already been accused by local traders in Dakar of undercutting their prices).

CFAO is some distance behind Auchan, which launched in Dakar in 2015 (initially under the Atac banner). It then acquired 9 stores from Citydia franchisee Société Diagonal in late 2017. Since then it has sought to grow its network further, with stores outside Dakar in Mbour and Thiès, Senegal’s third largest city. Auchan now has 27 stores in Senegal, a commanding lead over rival Casino (operated by Mercure International). At the time, available information indicated that CFAO would try and build a 10,000m² hypermarket and not compete with Auchan on neighbourhood stores. We also speculated that Mercure might launch a more upmarket Casino Mandarine store (which had already been launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire). In fact, neither has happened, handing the initiative firmly to Auchan. Casino, in particular, has effectively stayed still while Auchan has dominated supermarket retailing in Dakar.

CFAO has revealed that it plans to launch 8-10 Supeco stores – a discounter/wholesale hybrid format – in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon and Senegal. This is a genuine innovation in Senegal, although less so in Côte d’Ivoire, where market leaders Prosuma and CDCI both operate hybrid retail/whole stores. in Cameroon, Supeco will go ahead with Casino’s Bao cash and carry format, launched in March 2018.

Supeco is an emerging Carrefour brand in Spain, Eastern Europe and Brazil. But it is not implemented uniformly. In Spain and Eastern Europe it is used to compete head to head with discounter Lidl. Carrefour’s partner in Morocco, Label’Vie, is also trialling a much smaller Supeco format, in this case to compete with Turkish small format discounter BIM. In Senegal, where CFAO plans 3 Supeco store openings in 2019, we don’t yet know what size format the stores will take. We think it more likely they will be around 400m²-800m² and stock 3,000-4,000 SKUs.

We do know this much: CFAO is late to the party. Given its current preference to put Carrefour stores in malls CFAO is building it is moving slowly. Unless it is going to open large hypermarkets that suck the oxygen from nearby supermarkets, it needs to find a way to accelerate its store openings and move away from traditional malls. The Supeco format provides a change of pace but it is relatively unproven, even in Europe.