Carrefour to shut Singapore stores by year-end

SINGAPORE/PARIS (Reuters) - World No. 2 retailer Carrefour CARR.PA will shut its two stores in Singapore by the end of this year as it pulls out of more non-strategic countries to free up cash to cut debt and fund the revival of its struggling European hypermarkets.

Carrefour Singapore made the announcement two years after Europe’s largest retailer unsuccessfully tried to sell its operations in Singapore and Malaysia.

The news comes two days before new CEO Georges Plassat is due to unveil his recovery plan for Carrefour with first-half results on August 30.

Carrefour already pulled out of recession-hit Greece in July amid falling sales, and analysts told Reuters last week they expected more disposals in Indonesia, Turkey, Poland, Malaysia and Singapore to follow, with total proceeds between 1 and 3 billion euros.

Carrefour Singapore said it planned to close its Suntec and Plaza Singapura stores before the end of the year “since expansion and growth perspectives do not allow reaching a leadership position in the medium and long term”.

By 0957 GMT on Tuesday, Carrefour shares were down 1.35 percent at 16.10 euros, underperforming the European sector .SXRP.

In Singapore, the biggest supermarket operators are Hong Kong's Dairy Farm DIAR.SI and local players NTUC Fairprice and Sheng Siong SHEN.SI.

Carrefour employs close to 400 people at its two hypermarkets in Singapore, where its market share is below 2 percent and revenue below 100 million euros ($125 million).

Carrefour would not say how much it would cost to close the stores.

Carrefour announced the sale of its Thai operations to French rival Casino CASP.PA in November 2010 but called off plans to divest its Singapore and Malaysian outlets because the bids received were too low, sources had told Reuters.

Asia generated 8.9 percent of Carrefour’s 2011 sales of 91.506 billion euros. China accounted for the bulk with revenue of 5.04 billion. Taiwan generated 1.496 billion and Indonesia 1.126 billion. Other countries in Asia achieved 2011 revenue of 508 million euros.

Editing by John O’Callaghan and James Regan