New Carrefour boss to meet unions amid job cut fears

Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:58am EDT

* Plassat scheduled to meet Carrefour unions May 10

* Plans may entail 3,000-5,000 French job cuts - union

* Carrefour declines to comment

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, April 27 (Reuters) - Carrefour CEO-designate Georges Plassat will meet trade unions on May 10 amid mounting fears Europe's largest retailer may cut thousands of jobs in its home market, where it has been underperforming.

Force Ouvriere representative Dejan Terglav also told Reuters the union would ask Plassat about a possible plan to cut 3,000-5,000 jobs in France. "He is preparing a rather large restructuring in France," Terglav said on Friday.

Retail veteran Plassat, who joined Carrefour on April 2 as chief operating officer ahead of taking the chief executive role in June, has a record of company restructuring and a reputation as a ruthless cost-cutter.

His challenge is to reverse years of underperformance in Carrefour's European markets, notably in France at a time when disposable incomes are being squeezed by rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures.

Carrefour, one of the largest private sector employers in France, declined to comment. It ended 2011 employing 112,000 people in France, a market in which it makes about 40 percent of annual group sales of 90 billion euros ($119 billion).

Several union representatives said they feared the French cuts would mostly affect hypermarkets and group headquarters.

There was already a hiring freeze in place in some positions, notably the non-food sector which has suffered as shoppers cut spending on non-essentials, they said. ($1 = 0.7559 euro) (Editing by Dan Lalor)