When Carrefour entered the Chinese market in 1995, the French supermarket chain chose to do it quietly, kind of like testing the water rather than making a splash. There was no marching band or lion dance to announce the opening of its first outlet in Beijing.
It was perhaps premature to be celebrating because nobody was sure whether the Chinese consumers were ready to change their life-long habit of buying groceries from their neighborhood stores for an entirely new shopping experience that de-emphasized any form of human interaction. It was obviously not the Chinese style.
But embrace it they did. Since that rather tepid first foray, Carrefour has opened 116 more stores on the mainland with a total floor area of nearly 1 million sq m and is employing almost 50,000 people.
Its adopted Chinese name — Jia Le Fu (happy and lucky family in English) – has become practically synonymous with "supermarket" on the mainland.
The company’s sales in China amounted to 30 billion yuan in 2007, accounting for about 5 percent of total group revenue.
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