Carrefour was started in Paris, France by the Fournier and Deoffrey families in 1959. In 1960, the company opened its first supermarket, followed by the opening of the first Carrefour hypermarket in Sainte-Genevive-des-bois in 1963. In 1969, the opening of the first Carrefour store in Belgium marked the beginning of Carrefour’s international expansion. Between 1970 and 1980, the company went through a number of changes and expansions.
In 1970, the company’s stock was floated on the Paris Bourse (the Paris Stock Exchange). Two years later, the first Carrefour store in the UK was opened (Carrefour has since withdrawn from the UK), along with the first Italian Carrefour store. In 1980 the company started its consumer magazine, the Carrefour Journal, as a way of getting in touch with its consumers. The following year, Carrefour launched its own payment card, the Pass Card.
Another new service, Assurances Carrefour, offering customers insurance policies, was started in 1984. Further diversification took place in 1990, with the creation of Express, a chain specializing in quick oil changes. In 1993, Carrefour Car Service was launched in conjunction with radiotelephony and automobile services. Having established itself in countries all over the world, Carrefour bolstered its presence in its domestic market early in 2000, through a merger with the French grocery retailer Promodes.
The deal enabled Carrefour to take control of the 6000 hypermarkets, supermarkets, convenience stores, and discount stores run by Promodes and thereby expand both in terms of product and service diversification and in its international operations. Later the same year Carrefour expanded its European presence by taking a major stake in the Italian company Gruppo Spa, making the company the second largest distributor in Italy.
Carrefour also formed a partnership with Marinopoulos to become the top distribution group in Greece. The company also emerged as a major distribution company in Belgium by taking 100% control of GB. Another merger in 2000 that shaped Carrefour’s operations in Europe was the partnership between Carrefour and the Maus group, allowing Carrefour to take part in the Swiss retail market through a chain of hypermarkets, giving the company a presence in most major European countries.