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Carrefour to Boost Presence in South Korea

LONDON - French retailing giant Carrefour on Monday said it would invest $800 million in South Korea over the next four years to better compete in one of Asia's fastest-growing retail markets, the Financial Times reports.

Analysts expect the retail market in South Korea, which is the third-largest economy in Asia, to grow 15 percent annually as shoppers shun traditional open-air markets and small family-owned stores.

However, Carrefour and other foreign-owned retailers including Tesco and Wal-Mart will have a hard time competing with South Korea's domestic market leaders, such as Shinsegae's E-Mart and Lotte Shopping's Magnet.

Carrefour, the fourth-biggest discounter in South Korea behind E-Mart, Tesco-controlled Home Plus and Magnet, will invest $200 million a year between 2004 and 2007 to open new stores and renovate existing ones, according to the report. The French retailer told the Financial Times in May that it planned to invest EU1bn in South Korea over the next five years. Carrefour currently has 26 stores and a market share below 10 percent in South Korea.
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