French retail giant Carrefour, which was planning to close 21 stores in Belgium, has proposed to axe fewer outlets after talks with unions.

The world’s second-largest retailer, which is looking to shake up its business in Belgium, confirmed today (6 April) that it was looking to save “seven to nine” of the outlets planned for closure.

Carrefour had faced local strikes in protest at the initial plans and amid fears that the company would eventually quit Belgium. At the weekend, the retailer said the sporadic strike action had led its sales in Belgium to fall by 15%.

A second proposal could see Carrefour sell 20 further stores to the Mestdagh Group, a local retailer. Carrefour said Mestdagh was analysing the plan and would report to the company next week.

A spokesman for Carrefour’s Belgian operations said the revised plans would make the business more efficient and emphasised the company’s commitment to staying in the country.

Carrefour plans to spend EUR300m (US$401.2m) on upgrading its remaining stores in Belgium by 2012, the spokesman said.

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“Belgium is still part of Carrefour’s G4 – the four most important countries for Carrefour. Belgium is a competitive market but we are still one of the leading retailers and, if we do this plan, it will form the basis to relaunch the company [in the country],” the spokesman added.