Auchan is planning to transform an existing 9,000 sq.m hypermarket in Mulhouse, eastern France, into a discount outlet trading under the new Priba by Auchan name.

However, the chain has played down suggestions that the move marks a turning point in its strategy and a shift towards a greater discount offering.

"It is rare that an Auchan store consistently underperforms but this is the case with our hypermarket in Mulhouse - largely due to its location in an economically-impoverished area of the city. Priba is our response to a local problem," an Auchan spokesman told just-food today (8 January).

"If the test proves positive then who's to say we won't consider implementing the concept elsewhere. But frankly, at this stage, it is just too early to say."

The discount hypermarket is scheduled to open by early April. It will be 100% self-service and offer a range of 25,000-30,000 different products, compared to around 65,000 in a traditional hypermarket.           

"There will be a bigger proportion of low-price and retailers' own brands on sale and more bulk buying food options available but national brands will continue to be on the shelves," the spokesperson revealed.