If new rules let supermarkets sell cars, French retailer Carrefour says it would offer high-margin services rather than discount cars.
The huge retailing chain said added-value services such as short- or long-term car rentals are much more appealing, but the chain will wait until the new rules are clear.
'We shall tackle this market only if we are sure that we are authorized to, and that we can bring services with added value,' said spokesman Christian Honoré. 'We would not focus on the sale of discounted cars.'
Short- or long-term rentals involve the supply of financial services such as loans or insurance, where Carrefour hopes to make a higher profit than in simple car selling, analysts said.
Carrefour owns 537 hypermarkets in Europe, including 214 in France. In France, it owns 1,180 gasoline stations and 60 centers providing basic repairs for equipment such as brakes or suspension. It has just started opening similar centers in Spain and plans to do the same in Italy.
In late May, the European Parliament approved a modified version of the Competition Commission's published plan to open up new-car sales and servicing in the European Union effective October 1. But since the Parliament's action is not legally binding on the Commission, it is unclear what effect, if any, Parliament will have on the new rules.
Honoré said Carrefour would rather build on its current network than buy dealerships that carmakers sell off as they restructure their networks.
Honoré ruled out quick-hit tactics, such as a one-time heavy discount on an aging model.
'We do things for the long term,' he said. 'We don't go for one-off coups like these.'