PARIS Carrefour (CARR.PA) confirmed on Friday it had chosen Alexandre Bompard as its new chairman and chief executive following an eight month search at the world's second-largest retailer.
Bompard, 44 will quit his role as chief executive of consumer electronics retailer Fnac Darty (FNAC.PA) and succeed Georges Plassat, who has been at the helm since 2012, on July 18.
Investors want Carrefour's new CEO to boost the performance of the French hypermarkets, a task where others have struggled or failed, and to catch up in the digitalisation of retail.
Bompard ticks many boxes for the task ahead, with a track record of cutting costs and growing online operations - both of which could be central to reviving French hypermarkets.
"We see it as a positive catalyst for the stock...Using Bompard's expertise would enable Carrefour to move faster,"said Kepler Cheuvreux analysts, who have a "buy" rating on Carrefour.
Since taking the reins at Carrefour in June 2012, Plassat has led a recovery focused on price cuts, accelerating expansion into convenience shops and renovating stores.
Plassat, credited with saving Carrefour from a possible break-up, leaves a group which has progressed in most of Europe and in Brazil, its second-largest market.
But a more sluggish performance in France, which accounts for 47 percent of sales and 44 percent of operating profit and where struggling hypermarkets still dominate, has hampered the stock's performance. In March, Carrefour reported its first fall in operating profit since 2012.
"The new CEO will have a significant task but there is no easy fix. Carrefour's issues are more about the market structure it evolves in, especially in France with the dynamism of independent players and more over in the hypermarkets segment," HSBC analysts said in a recent note.
Other key challenges facing Bompard include carrying out the planned initial public offering of Carrefour's Brazilian arm this year and the float of property unit Carmila as well as deciding what to do with the loss-making business in China.
Carrefour shares, which had fallen to 14 euros at the time of Plassat's appointment in June 2012, more than doubled to 32 euros in April 2015 but have been on a downward slope again since then.
Carrefour employs over 360,000 people worldwide, including 115,000 in France. Several trade unions in France have already requested a meeting with the new boss.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that Bompard's nomination was due in a matter of days.
(Editing by Matthias Blamont)