Carrefour's Organic Food Helps Retailer Cope With Big-Box Woes

(Bloomberg) -- Carrefour SA’s growing sales of organic food helped the French retailer make up for continued weakness in its non-grocery business in the first quarter.

Comparable sales rose 2.7 percent to 20 billion euros ($22.4 billion), the company said Wednesday, a result that met analysts’ estimates.

Growing sales of organic food are boosting Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard’s effort to revamp the company’s sprawling suburban stores, which sell everything from garden hoses to green beans and jewelry under one roof. Sales at those stores have been persistently weak, and the non-food business remained a drag in the first quarter. Bompard’s strategy of hanging on to so-called hypermarkets contrasts with that of rival Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA, which has been selling off unprofitable big-box outlets to rivals including Leclerc and Intermarche.

Carrefour also said that its board would propose Alexandre Arnault to replace his father, Bernard Arnault, as a director through the rest of his term that ends at the company’s annual general meeting next year. Bernard Arnault, who’s also chairman and CEO of luxury leader LVMH, resigned from Carrefour’s board on April 15.

The proposed appointment gives Alexandre Arnault, 26, who’s been overseeing LVMH’s Rimowa luggage brand, a position of responsibility monitoring a key investment of France’s wealthiest family, which owns more than 5 percent of the retailer.

Shares in the retailer, which reported after Paris markets closed, have risen 1.8 percent over the past 12 months.

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