E Leclerc is France's biggest supermarket retailer, narrowly ahead of long-time arch-rival Carrefour as the country's biggest groceries supplier overall. After months if not years of trailing Carrefour by a few fractions of a percent, Leclerc finally seized the lead in early 2017 and has retained it ever since. Leclerc now has around 21% of the French groceries market to Carrefour's 20%. The chain remains a co-operative, with essentially all 690 main stores and 1,925 specialist outlets run by a network of 593 independent owner-operators. Manufacturing, distribution and marketing is managed centrally by ACDLec, the coordination body chaired by Michel-Edouard Leclerc, son of the chain's founder and now the main spokesman for "Le Mouvement Leclerc". He has also pushed the group aggressively into grocery pick-up (Leclerc Drive) and home delivery (Leclerc Chez Moi). The chain has built its reputation by battling against government monopolies and price controls in order to sell high quality goods at rock-bottom prices. It regularly courts media headlines to accuse suppliers or rivals (especially Carrefour) of over-pricing, and also conducts high profile political campaigning on consumer rights and environmental issues. For more than 20 years, for example, it has sponsored an annual waste collection project, Nettoyons la Nature ("Let's Clean Up The Landscape"), mobilising 500,000 volunteers around the country to pick up rubbish in urban and rural areas. Private label or exclusive products form the largest share of group sales. Marque Repere is the umbrella name for a huge range of more than 2,000 foods and other consumer goods which are on permanent discount promotion. There are similar promotional schemes for higher price goods (Eco+) and regional French specialties (Nos Regions Ont Du Talent). Tissaia is the store's private label clothing brand. The group has gradually extended its footprint beyond France, most notably into Spain, Poland and Portugal, but that part of the business remains small compared to other French grocery retailers. Meanwhile, the group has also moved into a huge a variety of additional sectors ranging from utilities to funeralcare to travel services. It is also the country's foremost mass-market jeweller (as Le Manege a Bijoux) and a leading petrol retailer. As a private concern Leclerc is notoriously cautious about releasing financials. For 2018, it disclosed group revenues of €37.8bn, excluding petrol.
Capsule checked 25th February 2019
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Who are the competitors of Leclerc? Aside from Carrefour, Leclerc's main competitors in the French grocery market are Intermarché (14.7% market share for 12 weeks to Feb 2019, according to Kantar Worldpanel), Groupe Casino (11.0%), Systeme U (10.6%), Auchan (10.5%), and Lidl (5.8%). See Retail Sector for other companies
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