“Hypermarkets, fall of Empire”, on ARTE: a consumption model exceeded

Rémi Delescluse investigated the methods of large distribution, by interviewing suppliers and leaders of large signs.


“What is important is to break the legs of the suppliers. Once [they are] on the ground, we begin to negotiate.” These words of the director of a group of large distribution are reported By Marwan Merry, an expert in negotiation of adn group , for illustrate the violence of the negotiations between the buyers of the large distribution and their suppliers. It is not the only one to indulge, in this diverting documentary devoted to hypermarkets.

After the very personal investigation of the children of secrecy, on the quest for children born of anonymous donors, Rémi Delescluse is interested in supermarkets, to denounce their scandalous or even illegal practices, but also to reveal their growing economic distress , although they control 70% of food in Europe.

The diagnosis begins with a historical reminder with the opening, in 1963, from the first Carrefour supermarket, in a consumer society that is in full swing. At the time, the revenue expected by management for 1970 was 1 billion francs for a gross margin of 15%, or 150 million; Seventy years later, margins melted.

In question mainly, development, accelerated by the pandemic, e-commerce platforms. By competing with supermarkets on non-food products, with strong margins, they bind them to tighten their food negotiations at lower margins. Hence the use of purchasing plants, which accentuate the imbalance between buyers and sellers. Even Danone, in 2018, lost his iron arm against the Agecore power plant (24,000 stores, including those of Intermarché …).

“Milk cows”

A supplier, blurred face, come with negotiation records on a trading offense, shows videos with commercials forced to participate in inventories. These “free services” would be the last find of hypers to get out financially, assured Jerome Coulomel, former Litigation Legal Director at Carrefour (1991-2018) in Falaise (Calvados). This other key witness will also reveal how franchisees, “who called internally milk cows”, are exploited.

“The power of nuisance [of great distribution] is such that it creates a feeling of impunity, invulnerability,” regrets Marwan Merry. Yet the wind turns, suggests the rest of the film, which returns to the work, in 2019, of the parliamentary commission on “the situation and the practices of the great distribution”, presided over by the member Thierry Benoît (UDI, Ille -and-vilaine) and to which the member LREM participates in Aude Gregory Besson-Moreau – Witness here. Among the exchanges, sometimes lively, the hearing of Michel-Edouard Leclerc, traits drawn, is particularly instructive.

During this time, in the United States, Amazon embarked on the grocery store and maybe invents the supermarket of tomorrow, in its twelve Amazon Fresh created in six months, equipped with connected caddies that avoid the passage in cash. In China, a former Walmart framework bet on fast delivery, and 150 technician engineers are working on the development of an autonomous electric vehicle.

/Media reports.