Carrefour vows to maintain prices

MANAMA: Carrefour, the retail chain operated in Bahrain by Majid Al Futtaim, continues to keep all its stores in the country open and is committed to maintaining prices during this time, a top official has said.

Jerome Akel, country manager of Carrefour Bahrain at Majid Al Futtaim Retail, told the GDN in an exclusive interview that “As there is no government ruling around stores and other essential businesses at the moment, we will remain open and do not plan to close any of our stores at this time.”

He also said that as the company sources a large portion of its food through local or regional suppliers, it has not faced any supply chain issues despite the increasing demand.

Despite an uptick in sales over the last few months, the supply chain is “well-equipped to ensure essential products remain available to our customers.”

The company also remains committed to supporting suppliers as it looks to provide customers with the best and freshest food options possible at the best prices, despite the current challenges, he said.

Talking about the impact of Covid-19 on business, he said, “We have seen an increase in sales overall, including a noticeable spike in demand following government announcements on developments to the virus and also as a result of rumour on social networks. However, in general our customers are respecting government guidelines and staying at home, while the majority are purchasing only essential goods.”

Although sales have increased, Carrefour recorded a drop in footfall by 30 per cent on average in April when the malls were partially closed, said the official.

“We have seen an increase in online orders through our partner platform, Talabat, following a rise in demand for options that allow our customers to shop from home.”

Meanwhile, the new Carrefour app was soft-launched last week, and will further support the company’s efforts to meet the growing demand for contactless shopping.

Explaining how the brand is dealing with the ongoing pandemic, in terms of health and safety procedures, Mr Akel said, in addition to the already stringent sanitisation standards, Carrefour has put in place a set of measures across markets to ensure the safety of customers and employees.


                Mr Akel

“In store, these measures include the ongoing cleaning of floors in areas with fresh food, alongside twice daily cleaning of all walls and work surfaces.

“We also sanitise all equipment daily, alongside work counters that are cleaned with bleach twice a day.”

The official said all store employees are required to sanitise their hands every hour, while acrylic glass screens have been placed at store checkout counters to provide separation and reduced contact between employees and customers.

Carrefour also conducts daily temperature checks of all colleagues upon arrival, and monitors health of employees, who have also been given awareness training.

For customers, hand sanitiser dispensers have been stationed at the entrance, fresh food sections, and cash counters.

Single-use gloves are also provided for customers prior to entering stores, and trollies are sanitised before and after every use.

“We also take the temperature of all customers entering our premises.”

The company has placed instructional signs across all stores to guide customers on social distancing while shopping, including maintaining a minimum of one metre distance with other shoppers.”

Another key step, said Mr Akel, was encouraging cashless and contactless payments at all stores, although all payment methods continue to be available.

“Additionally, we are complying with the guidelines provided by the relevant health authorities in each market where we do business to limit the spread of the virus.”

The company has banned business travel and is encouraging employees to use technology to replace in-person meetings.

The number of trips made by the staff transportation service daily have been increased to ensure adequate social distancing for employees.

“Furthermore, we have mandated that any employee who is experiencing flu-like symptoms should not come to work and should seek medical attention immediately.

“We continue to monitor the situation and will take additional measures if necessary,” he added.

Mr Akel further said that if an employee were to fall ill, Majid Al Futtaim Retail will ensure the employee and their family can access the necessary medical support.

As cinemas, leisure and entertainment businesses remain shut, the company has redeployed employees in Bahrain, with 32 staff from VOX Cinemas working in retail stores to help fulfil a rise in shopper demand both online and in store.

“This is part of a specific programme from Majid Al Futtaim to provide employees with an opportunity to retrain within the company ecosystem,” he said.

Talking about efforts to support the community, the official said the company has donated BD100,000 to the Feena Khair campaign, which supports national efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have also been able to meet demand for medical masks through our stores with the help of the Bahrain Defence Force.”





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