Tuesday , 15 October 2019
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Carrefour raids Fnac for finance chief

Matthieu Malige (left) with Alexandre Bompard, pictured together while at Fnac, have renewed their partnership at Carrefour © AFP

French retailer Carrefour has named former Fnac Darty chief financial officer Matthieu Malige as its new finance chief, three months after its chief executive made the same move.

The appointment of one of Carrefour chief executive Alexandre Bompard’s key lieutenants from his time at Fnac Darty comes as he is trying to turn round the world’s second-largest retailer by revenues. In August Carrefour shares plummeted after it issued a profit warning.

Mr Malige previously spent eight years at Carrefour, between 2003 and 2011, in a number of senior management positions. He then jumped ship to Fnac, arriving in the same year that Mr Bompard took up the reins of the electronics chain as chief executive. Mr Bompard joined Carrefour from Fnac Darty in July.

Mr Malige replaces Pierre Jean Sivignon, who is stepping down as finance chief because of “personal difficulties” and will become an adviser to Mr Bompard, Carrefour said on Monday.

Mr Malige, who began his career at Lazard investment bank, “will be closely associated with the strategic reflections on [Carrefour’s] development”, as well as heading up the group’s finance function, the company said.

Mr Bompard, who has yet to unveil his strategy, is facing several key challenges, including accelerating Carrefour’s digital transformation, raising its profitability and injecting new life into the group’s hypermarkets, notably in its home market of France. Here the group has been losing market share to cheaper rivals such as E Leclerc and discounters Aldi and Lidl.

Analysts welcomed Mr Malige’s appointment, noting the finance chief and chief executive duo’s impact at Fnac Darty. “We have been impressed by the complementary nature of this team at Fnac, where Matthieu Malige built a strong track record in managing cost-cutting, working capital, and cash,” analysts at brokerage Raymond James said in a note. “We believe, just as at Fnac back in 2011, Carrefour needs to make some progress on these three metrics,” they added.

Pressure on Carrefour has mounted in Mr Bompard’s first few months at the helm amid speculation that US ecommerce group Amazon is considering acquisitions or partnerships in Europe, and is looking at France.

This month the chief executive of French retailer E Leclerc, which has overtaken Carrefour to become France’s largest grocery retailer by market share, revealed that the privately held supermarket chain had been approach by Amazon over a possible logistics deal.

A logistics tie-up between Leclerc and the US ecommerce group would provide Amazon with physical locations for delivery and collection, while allowing the two groups to combine purchasing power and drive down buying costs.

Carrefour will report its sales figures for the third quarter on Wednesday. Following news of the change in finance chief, its shares rose 1.8 per cent in early trading on Monday, making the top performer in France’s CAC40 index.