Carrefour: The Crisis Management Strategy Amid a Global Pandemic

COVID-19 has significantly impacted economies and businesses across the world. While having serious implications on public health and safety, the pandemic has also forced businesses to navigate operational challenges while quickly having to address the needs of their employees, customers, and suppliers. Georgia is no exception.

Over the course of the last few months, the country’s economy has experienced a sharp decline, with its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) falling by 16.6 per cent in April 2020. In spite of this unpredictable and unexpected environment, organisations — led by people with robust crisis management skills and prior experience — were able to maintain a degree of stability.

Globally, it is agreed that no one could have predicted the scale and scope of the coronavirus’ impact. And yet, even amid the chaos, there are companies that lead us toward green shoots of recovery. Watching organisations respond and adapt impressively to operate their businesses sustainably — and in such exacting conditions — underscores the importance of crisis management skills; especially in turbulent times.

Carrefour is one of a handful of prominent brands that has successfully managed to contend with the challenges posed by COVID-19. One of the world’s largest hypermarket and supermarket brands, Carrefour — operated in Georgia by Majid Al Futtaim since 2012 — has been a player in the Georgian market since 2018. Since the company’s establishment in the country, Carrefour has provided Georgians with quality, variety, and value; introducing a completely new and unrivalled shopping experience to the region. Carrefour has brought to Georgia an extensive choice of more than 40,000 food and non-food products characterised by low pricing and high-quality.

With 22 local stores to supply to, and acting as a catalyst for change within the community, Carrefour has proven itself a resilient retail leader amid a global crisis. In a recent sit-down, Christophe Orcet — the Country Manager of Carrefour Georgia — revealed the three central tenets that have helped Carrefour to navigate the ups and downs of the global pandemic; offering some valuable guidance for businesses contending with crises.

Prior planning and preparation

“While this is an unprecedented situation, the world is no stranger to global crises,” Orcet reminds us. Having worked in retail over the last 27 years, he has helped steer the business through the spread of the H1N1 virus in 2010, as well as the MERS outbreak in 2012.

Accordingly, Carrefour has had in place a longstanding crisis management toolbox which comprises a supply chain, customer relations, and hygiene plan in the case of a global health concern. Orcet explains, being in a retail business that is primarily concerned with supplying fresh food items, it is important to learn from the past and double down on crisis management efforts.

“In essence, plan for more than you would expect, because as a business your greatest responsibility is to your customer and there is no room for risking safety,” he says.

The first coronavirus case appeared in Georgia on 26 February, but Carrefour had already been taking steps to implement elements of their epidemic toolbox, created from the learnings of past experiences.

Acting quickly and adapting, together

The wellbeing and safety of employees and customers is the number one priority for the company. As such, Carrefour Georgia had taken proactive steps toward improving public health as well as implementing technological solutions to minimise the spread of the virus.

When it comes to safety, Orcet repeats again and again, there is no time to compromise and action must be taken immediately.

Accordingly, Carrefour increased the frequency of cleaning and sanitation with maximum concentration permitted for washing and disinfection detergents. The company systematically began disinfecting its trolleys, baskets, and all other surfaces. Moreover, before admitting personnel to the stores or the Head Office, Carrefour imposed mandatory health condition controls to check for coughing, breathing difficulties, and temperature — these preventive measures put in place to stymie the spread of the virus.

All Carrefour employees are equipped with masks and gloves. For additional safety of employees, special protective barriers were also installed at cash counters. Today, all customers are encouraged to wear gloves and keep a distance of two meters.

In addition to the swift and stringent hygiene standards put in place, Carrefour has also worked hard to enhance its eCommerce offering during the pandemic to ensure customers maintain access to essential items.

A previous partnership with the delivery company, Glovo, helped to increase the number of customers during this difficult time and enabled Carrefour to add value to the shopping experience while investing the customers’ experience. As it seeks to switch to contactless solutions, Carrefour continues to expand its partnership network by collaborating with Mastercard.

“We’ve implemented a joint campaign together regarding a contactless payment method, which is in force until July,” Orcet added.

Supporting the community

Carrefour proactively supports the communities it serves. Recognising early on that the pandemic was a community concern, Carrefour sought to contribute beyond its own business operations in order to reduce the spread of the virus while safeguarding the health and safety of employees and customers. This speaks to the belief that a business can only thrive if the people in its surrounding communities work together, Orcet emphasised.

A name with great sense of social responsibility, Carrefour joined the Red Cross and Tbilisi City Hall campaign to support Georgia’s elderly and socially vulnerable members of the community. The campaign also allows customers to contribute to helping 10, 000 elderly people in need.

In addition to this campaign, Carrefour is cooperating with the Rehabilitation Center for disabled elderly people and is systematically providing the center with food. Most recently, an important memorandum signed with the international charity organisation, Emmaus, helped provide clothes that are no longer in use to socially vulnerable families.

Carrefour continues to implement its corporate social responsibility initiatives in order to help ease the pandemic’s burdens on citizens.

In doing so, Carrefour aims to underline its commitment to the people and communities it serves; emphasising that businesses will play an even greater role in supporting communities going forward, post-COVID.

Christophe Orcet, Country Manager of Carrefour Georgia


30 July 2020 20:44