While shoppers in the UK and France have taken to buying their groceries online comparatively readily, their Spanish counterparts have proved more reluctant. The success of Carrefouronline in Madrid is therefore all the more impressive. The company has now expanded its logistics operations with Tibbett & Britten, marking a partnership that could prove powerful enough to fuel further growth.

French retail giant Carrefour has joined forces with UK logistics specialist Tibbett & Britten to launch a new service for its Carrefouronline virtual supermarket, which serves the Spanish capital Madrid. The new centre boasts 10,000 square metres of floor space, 23 loading platforms, and the capacity to handle 250,000 units of sale each day. Deliveries are made to the client’s address within 24 hours and are timed to arrive in a two-hour time slot chosen by the client.

The move has been motivated by a five-fold increase in orders at the online store over the last six months, with Carrefour anticipating a 25% increase by 2005 in its core Madrid market. This is despite the fact that Spanish consumers have failed to embrace online shopping in the same way that consumers elsewhere in Europe, such as the UK or France, have done.

Carrefour aims to offer online 75% of the items normally available in its hypermarkets, backed by a top notch logistics system. For Tibbet & Britten, the contract represents a further step in its expansion into the Spanish retail sector.

It follows the company’s success in becoming the largest food and drink logistics provider in France after signing new contracts at the beginning of February with retail giants Carrefour, Promodes, Leclerc and Casino.

Carrefour is trying to increase its share of the Spanish eCommerce market, encouraged by the recent failure of its main rival Auchan, which was forced to end the eCommerce activities of its Spanish unit, Alcampo, last October. Meanwhile, if Tibbett & Britten can further capitalise on gaps in the online delivery market it stands to gain as the market grows. The partnership between two of Europe’s major players in retail and retail logistics may yet be enough to overcome the reluctance of Spanish consumers and see Carrefouronline forge a significant new market.

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