An Active Committed to Quality

Olivier Tollet, part of our 2017 Business Elite series, has been working for 25 years in Promodes-Carrefour, in corporate and business-units, plus marketing, development and sales positions. We caught up with him to learn more about his company including their approach to corporate social responsibility. 

global leader and the reference in food retail, Carrefour operates nearly 12,000 stores and e-commerce sites in more than 30 countries. Carrefour is a multilocal, multi-format and omni-channel retail group that employs more than 380,000 people worldwide and generated total sales of 103.7 billion euros under its banners in 2016. Every day, Carrefour welcomes 13 million customers around the world and is actively committed to quality and to more sustainable trade.

Aa a pioneer in countries such as Brazil in 1975 and China in 1995, the group now operates on three major markets: Europe, Latin America and Asia. Everywhere it operates, the Carrefour Group demonstrates its commitment to local economic growth. As retail involves people, it always gives priority to recruiting people who live locally, and to training its managers and staff on site.

Very often, the Carrefour Group is the premier private employer in the countries in which it operates. This is obviously the case in France – where the group was founded – but it also holds true in countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Italy. At the same time, the group gives priority to local supply chains. So, 74% of all its food products come from local suppliers in the countries in which it operates.

The group’s corporate social responsibility worldwide approach is built on three pillars: fighting against waste in all its forms, protecting biodiversity and working alongside the company’s partners. “During the last 12 years, I have been contributing towards the development of Carrefour in China, to what we call ‘the new formats’. That is what access to Carrefour offers - quality and trustworthy products through the two new channels: [email protected] commerce & Easy.

“The idea of Easy was first suggested by the changing customer, who is part of the trend of growing urbanisation that includes higher standard of living, which means that more of their time in general is spent shopping using digital channels. Having said that, some very rationalised, fast-food oriented and the urban super markets had rather aging concepts in mind, with retail spaces starting from 500 sqm in terms of size.”

With an average size of 180sqm for a retail unit, Easy can be considered as a ‘convenient supermarket’, coming in between the two quotes store sizes. Olivier proceeds to tell us what drives him in his work and how the firm addresses the need that Chinese consumers have concerning consumption.

“My two motives of satisfaction in the work that I do come first from the customers, who explain to me how they use the store differently, according to the moments of the day and the products they need. Perhaps that is grabbing a hot coffee and a baozi (hot bun stuffed with meat or vegies), before heading to work. Or a lunchbox plus a fruit salad and an iced tea for lunch; and buying pork ribs, rice and a spicy sauce for dinner, without forgetting the essential white Chinese cabbage.

“What we wanted to address, was three complementary types of consumption for Chinese consumers who hardly stop their work and take time to eat during the day. Therefore, immediate consumption (hot & cold), imminent (grab-&-go snacks mainly) and future consumption (mostly for cooking at home) are all essential needs. The product ‘Easy’ thus fits in perfectly with the idea of the customers’ freedom of choice.

Olivier’s also loves working with the Easy team members and they greatly motivate him in the work he does. He is therefore very keen to tell us more about this in his own words.

“The start-up team here comprises of 30 people, most of whom have been working in the field business development. It is true to say that every one of them is very hands-on, plus they live close to the stores and openly impart their advice in an open-space on the 23rd floor of our head-office. That’s also where every member of staff is invited to give their opinion on the new fresh items to be tested before they go on sale.

“Coming mainly from Carrefour hypermarkets, the staff here have proved that their mindset is capable of a great flexibility to adjust to a new channel that has a wide and smart selection of items to cover the units of needs. The staff here also feel 100% responsible to fight on what make our store unique, because they are committed to building the Easy brand and making is strong in the long-term!”
Carrefour Group is clearly doing well and had ambitious for the future, as Olivier concludes in his own words. “I personally never foresaw the challenges of building a new brand in the competitive retail market in China, with a start-up lost in a big 500-world company. We now have 29 stores in Shanghai, five under construction and one to be opened this month in Wuxi. All this represents a hard work by the team and sometimes one can feel like you lose direction.

“That’s where my former position in marketing research came to my rescue. What does your Easy customer simply want? That’s surely a question of common sense? I would suggest that you offer them that extra item or service. It may not cost much, but I believe it will make the difference"

Company: Carrefour

Group Name: Olivier Tollet

Email: [email protected]

Web Address:

Address: 25/F Shanghai Stock Exchange Building, 528 Pudong Nan Road, Pudong, Shanghai, 200120 China

Telephone: 86 21 3878 4500

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