Carrefour has signed a joint venture that will see it develop hypermarkets and supermarkets under its namesake franchise in the Balkans.

The French retail giant has struck the deal with Marinopoulos, a company it already has a business relationship with, for a joint venture that will span Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

The new company will be 60% owned by Marinopoulous and 40% owned by the group's current Carrefour Marinopoulous venture.

"The creation of this joint subsidiary is a new step in the exemplary partnership between Carrefour and Marinopoulos in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria, and should allow the two groups to pursue growth in the promising Balkan region," Carrefour said.

Carrefour and Marinopoulos have had a relationship for almost 17 years in Greece and Cyprus, and currently operate 35 hypermarkets, 219 supermarkets and 284 convenience stores through their Carrefour Marinopoulos subsidiary.

The French retail giant today (19 February) posted a 74.2% slide in 2009 net profit as earnings were dented by writedowns and a decline in sales. Net profit dropped to EUR385m (US$519.8m), down from EUR1.27bn last year.

During the past 12 months, Carrefour took EUR1.1bn of charges, including EUR766m in impairment charges, primarily related to its Finiper business in Italy.

Earlier this month, Carrefour refused to be drawn on reports that it has failed to find a single buyer for its Russian hypermarket chain.

According to news reports, the French retail giant will instead sell its hypermarkets and lease agreements on an individual basis.