French retailer Leclerc is to up the stakes in its cooperation with Italian counterpart Conad. Last year the two groups signed a preliminary agreement. Now they have firmed up plans for a joint venture which will set up a chain of hypermarkets in Italy. The venture will cost Lit600-700bn (US$269-314m) and see the establishment of approximately 20 stores. It will be headed up by Ugo Baldi and trade under the name Conalec SrL. It will be controlled 60% by Conad and 40% by Leclerc.