Carrefour boss José Luis Duran has unveiled ambitious plans to generate 40% of the group's sales from emerging markets within the next five years.

Speaking exclusively to The Grocer following last week's third-quarter trading statement, the president of the management board said Carrefour had ditched its flag planting strategy in favour of focused international expansion. "We were in too many countries," he said. "We've decided to focus on fewer countries but be more focused within these."

The retailer, named Food from Britain's International Retailer of the Year this month, was now focusing on markets such as South America and Asia, he said. "Growth countries two years ago accounted for 20% of sales. In the most recent quarter that's grown to 27%. I'm sure that within three to five years that can get to about 40%. We have to balance our portfolio by reallocating our resources."

Historically, Carrefour had failed to capitalise on its first-mover advantage in certain markets, said Duran. "We were not fast enough in terms of new store openings. The key drivers of growth are brand awareness, leadership and speed. We lacked speed."

While it had pulled out of some markets, including Switzerland and Portugal this year, it had more than doubled the number of hypermarket openings from 50 to 110 a year, 80-85% of which were in its growth markets.

Own label would also grow in importance, he said. "From 2002 to 2004 there were close to zero new SKUs. Since 2005, we've launched 1,000 a year. Forty per cent of our volume sales are own label. We could get that to 50% in the next five years."