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    Liberalise French retail laws says Carrefour CEO

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    The chief executive Jose Luis Duran of French retail giant, Carrefour, sought liberalisation of French retail regulations in order to boost consumer purchasing power, warning that shelf prices are likely to rise in the coming months as stores pass on higher prices from manufacturers.

    In an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche, Duran said that retailers are currently faced with price increases of eight per cent on average from their suppliers, compared with six per cent last year.

    “The latest figures for October show there is already inflation (in store prices). That should continue at the beginning of 2008,” he said.

    Like other retailers, he criticised as insufficient the government”s planned reform of price rules, which will give stores the right to deduct from list prices all rebates won from suppliers while maintaining a ban on retailers freely negotiating prices.

    “I observe that our net margins are three per cent on average versus 10 per cent for the manufacturers. A readjustment is necessary,” Duran said.

    He wanted retailers to be given the right to negotiate prices with their suppliers, as well as having greater freedom to build or enlarge stores, and to open on Sundays.

    Following its initial reform of retail regulations, due to come into effect in January, the French government has promised to address the issues of price negotiations and Sunday opening in a second piece of legislation in the spring.