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Carrefour selects retail veteran as new CEO

Paris -- Carrefour, the second largest retailer in the world after Wal-Mart Stores, has selected French retailing veteran Georges Plassat, 62, as its next CEO and chairman.

Plassat, who heads up the private equity-backed retailer Vivarte, will replace Lars Olofsson, who has been challenged with increased criticism over a series of profit warnings that hammered the French group's shares down over the past year. Olofsson will resign at the company’s shareholders meeting on June 18, at which time Plassat will take the reins. Plassat will actually join Carrefour on April 2 as COO before becoming CEO.

Rumors have grown that Olofsson's departure could herald the break up of Carrefour, with the possible sale of its faster-growing emerging market businesses, according to Reuters. The retailer has been struggling for years, partly due to its reliance on hypermarkets, which have been losing favor with European shoppers.

Plassat spent 14 years at French retailer Casino and two years at Carrefour Spain before joining Vivarte in 2000.

Carrefour," said Natalie Berg, director of global research at Planet Retail in a Reuters report. "He is a seasoned retail executive with the non-food experience that Carrefour vitally needs."