Carrefour MD Shafie Shamsuddin answers your 10 questions

How different are Malaysian shoppers from those in Singapore? Carrie, Shah Alam

will always be differences in consumers’ buying behaviour due to
demographics, lifestyle, culture, market development opportunity, etc.
However, because of Malaysia and Singapore’s proximity, the gap is
reduced. We learn from one another very quickly, so much so that
consumers in both countries can only benefit. Our distinctions in
priorities, demand for halal goods and trends in IT are no longer dissimilar.

If Wal-Mart comes to Malaysia, how do you think that will change the local retail scene? Idris Mohd, Bangsar

other international retailers come to Malaysia, it may affect all the
retailers’ growth and development potential because the Government
already controls the growth of foreign hypermarkets here.

If the
Government’s guidelines remain status quo, I don’t see a potential
revolution in the local retail scene, unless the new foreign players
can bring in unique added value.

Carrefour’s presence in
Malaysia suits very well the development of Malaysia’s retail industry
because we can share our experience but at the same time, we adapt to
the local needs and environment.

There have been rumours that Carrefour is planning to exit Malaysia. What is your take on this? Malaysian consumer

Carrefour opened in Subang Jaya in 1994, we were the first hypermarket
in Malaysia. Between then and 2005, we have opened eight stores.

the last three years, we have doubled the number of stores and we now
have 17. Our ability to grow steadily demonstrates our long-term
commitment. It’s not aggressive but fair, as we give equal opportunity
to local retailers to develop together, especially in new formats like
our mini market, Carrefour Express.

We are very happy with our
development and returns on investment. As such, Carrefour’s presence in
Malaysia will continue as we commit to add to the strength of the
retail industry.

The Carrefour website talks about responsible sourcing. How challenging is it implementing this in Malaysia? Matthew Francis, KL

sourcing through an organised and step-by-step process, from the origin
of the materials to the shelving in our stores, has always been our
commitment. We have Carrefour brand products that are manufactured in
Malaysia and all over the world using meticulously documented processes
and audited by third parties to ensure quality, authenticity and
reliability. In Malaysia, we work with a stable of excellent suppliers.
Very often, they are given opportunities to supply to other countries
where Carrefour is present. Halal issues in Malaysia are unique to this country but we’ve learnt many great guidelines and have included them in our processes.

What is the toughest part of your job? V Kesavan

only constant in life is change. It will come whether we are ready or
not. This makes my job more challenging as we have to anticipate these
changes and be sure that we are always ready.

To serve our
customers’ changing needs, we need constant leadership development of
our people. While moving fast to serve our customers, we have to be
very passionate and sincere in serving them with ‘life’!

We also have to demand more from ourselves so as to be role models for our associates. Let’s change or be changed!

How would you describe your company’s experience in being involved in the Carrefour Duniaku reality TV show? M.K.Low, USJ

The Duniaku
experience was really fantastic! Our objective was to create more
career evolution rather than merely job opportunities. The show offered
good perspectives to attracting new talent to our organisation.

are able to showcase the growth and development of our associates, from
a young graduate to a director, with the possibility of even becoming
managing director.

Viewers and customers are also able to get to
know us better, especially in the way we work, and the professionalism
and etiquette involved. Suppliers were also invited to partner us in a
different way instead of the common direct sales approach.

How has consumer spending in Malaysia changed since the global financial crisis struck? Lee Seng Choy

are still discovering how to adapt to the financial crisis. Most
customers are being more cautious in their spending. There is greater
interest in our house brand as it gives better value for money.

However, the market is still not stabilised because consumers do not have a handle on the future.

Carrefour, we approach the crisis as a big opportunity. We developed a
tool, the ‘4 ACs’ to protect our Activity Contribution (profitability)
– 1. Accept Crisis (AC), 2. Adapt Cost (AC), 3. Assist Customers (AC)
and 4. Activity Contributions. (AC). We need to remain close with our
associates and customers during these challenging times.

serve and reward them for their long-term loyalty and support, we
reduced and pegged the prices of 45 basic necessities from Mar 13 to
Dec 31 to soften the impact of the financial crisis. The response has
been fantastic.

How do you address the criticism that the
controversy over the new Carrefour outlet in Kota Damansara contradicts
the company’s Responsible Commerce approach?
Danapal, Kota Damansara

Our Responsible Commerce approach is unchanged, if not made more strong by this episode.

are greatly humbled by the experience and we have so much respect for
everyone’s opinion. For that, we wish to thank the 60% of the residents
there who allow us to serve them.

It is our desire to serve
those who may still be wary of our presence. We promise to work very
hard to deserve the opportunity to serve the Kota Damansara community.

How does your management help the disabled employees to maintain good relationship and teamwork with their co-workers? Suzalina

ambition is to achieve 5% (400) disabled associates by 2012. Currently,
we are at 2% and we are confident that we will be close to 4% before
the year-end, with the opening of more stores.

We believe that
the hiring of the disabled is not based on their disability but more
importantly, their ability and talent. We are working with the United
Nations Development Programme and Pusat Latihan Perindustrian dan
Pemulihan, Bangi, for our disabled associates’ training, job matching
and job-site support.

They have given us guidance on handling
the physical and emotional needs of these associates. We have also
strengthened our core values by emphasising humility so that we will be
more open to live and work with our disabled associates.

After so long at Carrefour, what particular aspect of work still excites you? Fiona Lim, Setapak

I am given the opportunity to grow and develop future Carrefour leaders and associates in the retail environment.

it’s not as exciting as my personal ambition, which is to pave the way
for my people to develop a bigger meaning in life through five main
thoughts: (1) Understand who we are; (2) Life is full of crossroads and
choices; (3) Let’s learn to love before asking for love; (4) Live our
life now with appreciation; and (5) Give more than you take.

consider myself very fortunate to be involved in the grassroots with
more than 80% of our associates. It gives me a deeper understanding of
their lives. Their voices are as important as the other 20%, who are
our leaders.