Julien Munch (Carrefour Romania): Reframing obstacles as stepping stones to progress

Newsroom 20/03/2023 | 08:52

For Carrefour Romania, 2022 brought the second-highest growth rate in terms of sales among subsidiaries in Europe. CEO Julien Munch talks about the experience of operating in a business context that has changed dramatically within the span of just a few years.

By Anda Sebesi


Retailer Carrefour Romania had a fruitful 2022: it reached the milestone of 400 stores, expanded its e-commerce segment through its platform, carrefour.ro, strengthening the cooperation with Bringo, and added Glovo to its network of partners. “In 2022, Romania had the second-highest growth in Europe (+9 percent LFL). We want to be where our customers are and we will maintain the focus on proximity this year as well,” says CEO Julien Munch. Additionally, the company launched three new cooperatives and a new line of fresh products, branded Gradina noastra.

Carrefour currently partners with 1,300 individual local producers, of whom over 600 are ultra-local farmers who provide the retailer with fresh fruit and vegetables. “By acquiring locally, we can support Romanian farmers, their communities, and the local economy and we want to make this local engagement even stronger. Our private label was developed in the same way: Carrefour-branded products offer excellent value for money, and at the national level, over 80 percent of the private label turnover is generated by local suppliers,” says the CEO.

Last but not least, in 2022, the retailer also invested in its internal programmes, such as the School of Leaders, a strategic project that aims to identify young talents and train them for managerial roles, and the Digital Retail Academy, which improves digital skills through dedicated monthly training sessions. Last year alone, 4,190 employees accessed these programmes.

“Retail is a very dynamic industry, where you must find ways to turn challenges into opportunities quickly and anticipate the next steps—and that is my philosophy. Seizing a favourable moment is crucial; when action is needed, there is no time for worrying, and I think this kind of approach resonates with the company culture, which encourages leadership and performance,” Munch argues. He adds that the context in which Carrefour now operates has changed dramatically from all points of view—technologically, economically, socially—within the span of just a few years.

“We therefore need to stay ahead of the market. I value initiative and have a drive for innovation, and internally, we focus on developing a culture of innovation. I think capitalising on local expertise is very important—I see Carrefour as a Romanian company, as our ecosystem is mostly Romanian—from the more than 16,000 people on our team to our solid network of local suppliers and country-wide footprint.” The pandemic and the pressures associated with the start of the Ukrainian war were among the biggest sources of adversity for Carrefour Romania in 2022. “Luckily, we are good at the anticipation game. The most significant issues are the supply chain disruptions and the rising energy costs, aspects that are still causing concern within the industry. We are increasingly relying on ultralocal suppliers, thus also supporting the community. Local partnerships in fact benefit three parties: the customer, the community, and our company.”

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