ECONOMY

Carrefour freezes some prices until next year

French supermarket chain Carrefour, which claims to be the market leader in Greece, said yesterday it will hold prices of some 40,000 products steady in the period stretching from November 15 to March 15 next year. The general manager of the Greek operation, Didier Fleury, said the move is part of the company’s efforts to help consumers make the transition to the euro next year successfully and with the least disruption. He noted that the price freeze is in line with the government’s attempts to minimize the inflationary repercussions of the adoption of a single currency. The benchmark prices for products during the four-month period will be the prevailing prices on November 15, he told a press conference. He said the decision to impose a price freeze came after discussions with suppliers. Fleury said he expects the move to depress the retailer’s profit margins but expects to make up the difference via higher volume growth. The price freeze will only apply to the Greek operation and not to Carrefour’s stores in other parts of Europe. The Carrefour head said the company has spent 5 million euros preparing for the changeover to the euro. Of this figure, 700,000 euros have gone toward staff training, 1.3 million euros toward compatible software and front-office operations and 600,000 euros will be used to strengthen security during the dual circulation of the euro and drachma in the first two months of 2002. Fleury also disclosed plans to set up two hypermarkets in Greece, one in Athens and the other in Patras. In the meantime, 80 Marinopoulos stores have been renamed Champion. Carrefour and the Greek supermarket chain Marinopoulos have a joint venture.