September 14, 2018 / 11:32 AM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Carrefour digital chief Cheval to head French hypermarkets arm

* Cheval replaces Alain Rabec, who is leaving the group

* Cheval among high-profile execs recruited by CEO Bompard

* Reviving French hypermarkets is a Bompard priority (Adds details, background)

By Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Carrefour picked its digital chief Marie Cheval to replace Alain Rabec as head of its French hypermarket stores, highlighting the growing importance of its digital and online businesses in its broader strategy to revive its fortunes.

Carrefour is in the midst of a five-year overhaul plan unveiled in January to cut costs and jobs, boost E-commerce investment, and expand into convenience stores.

The plan entails reducing Carrefour’s reliance on big hypermarkets in an effort to lift profits and sales, and tackle growing competition from U.S. online giant Amazon.

Cheval’s role will be to “bring the transformation of the operational and commercial model of the hypermarket business, which is a major challenge for the success of the Carrefour’s Transformation Plan,” the company said in a statement.

Cheval, a former CEO of Societe Generale’s online bank Boursorama, was among several high-profile executives recruited outside the company a year ago by group chief executive Alexandre Bompard.

Bompard himself joined Carrefour from electronics retailer FNAC Darty in July 2017.

Cheval, currently executive director for the company’s ‘E-Commerce, Services and Digital Transformation’ units, retains the supervision of financial services, added Carrefour.

She will be replaced by Enrique Garcia Lopez as Executive Director for E-commerce and Digital Transformation for France.

Her replacement as the head of Carrefour’s digital transformation will announced at a later date.

The “Carrefour 2022” plan has been relatively well received by investors as being the right sort of strategy to prepare the ground for a recovery.

But firmer evidence of an improvement in its business performance has remained elusive in France, where Carrefour faces competition from the likes of Amazon and pressure from discounting at rivals such as Leclerc.

In France, where Carrefour makes 47 percent of its sales, hypermarket sales fell 1 percent year-on-year in the second quarter, with a 2.3 percent decline in the first quarter.

Rabec, a Carrefour veteran who was named as executive director of Carrefour Hypermarkets France in 2016, has decided to leave the group, added the company. It did not give further details regarding Rabec’s departure. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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