Carrefour has pulled the plug on its Hungarian operations and turned its attention towards Romania and China. Describing the trading environment in Hungary as “incredibly tough”, the head of Carrefour’s Hungarian subsidiary Alain Bonnefin said the French group might return later, possibly through acquiring a local player. Its single Hungarian branch will close. Further openings have been put on hold. Tesco declined to comment but said it had achieved the necessary scale (42 stores) to make its Hungarian operation a success. “It’s our scale that’s leading us to buy better now, so we are able to invest in lower prices,” said a spokesman. “We expect to move into profit this year.” With like for like sales growth at 20%, Hungary was singled out as one of Tesco’s two “lead countries” at its interim results in September. Tesco entered the market in 1994 with the acquisition of the Global chain. But hypermarkets are driving growth. Tesco will operate 15 by the end of the year, and plans are in place to build a further 13 by the end of 2003. {{NEWS }}