The recent announcement of French retail giant Carrefour to invest a further US$395m in developing its network of Polish stores by the end of next year has caused some concern amongst the country's smaller retailers, who fear that their business will suffer as they are edged out of the food market.

Carrefour has opened 12 supermarkets in Poland since 1996, and is planning a further 18. The company's Agata Paszkowska revealed that investment to date has totalled US$465m, a substantial percentage of the US$3.4bn worth of foreign investments that will have bolstered the Polish economy by the end of 2000, according to the Polish Foreign Investment Agency. Other hypermarket operators to target this market are Metro, Casino and Auchan.

In northern Warsaw's Zoliborz district, however, the investment is not all good news. "Within six months of a hypermarket opening, 15% of small retailers in the immediate area are wiped out," said Miroslaw Wroblewski, trade director of candy wholesaler Broplast. He has witnessed a steady drop in the numbers of smaller retailers since the arrival of the hypermarkets. The owner of a small grocery shop situated near a new Carrefour store, Malgorzata Michalska, told a similar story: "Many (former) clients now buy their groceries together with the rest of their shopping at supermarkets."