Belgium's GB stores are expected to close today (Saturday) as staff strike in protest at pay and conditions. A spokesman said that the introduction of night shifts and selected salary increases, rather than across the board raises, had prompted the industrial action. But he insisted the new measures were necessary if Carrefour was to achieve its ambitious targets for its Belgian subsidiary. Carrefour increased its stake in GB, the supermarket division of Belgium's GIB Group, last July to give it full ownership. The spokesman added: "We've got a programme in place to turn things round. We're spending 6.7bn Belgian francs this year alone to modernise the stores. There has been a lot of underinvestment and it's going to take a lot of work, but we are confident we can do it with an aggressive and dynamic commercial policy." New features include a wider range of non food items and photoprocessing facilities in the hypermarkets. Carrefour has also invested heavily in improving staff training. While some of the stores are franchised and therefore unaffected by the changes, most GB outlets are expected to close for the day of action ­ which could prove "very damaging for business". Industrial action last May ate heavily into the profit and loss sheet and the spokesman confirmed there was "always the possibility of further strikes". The cost of remodelling GB's 60 hypermarkets and almost 500 supermarkets was partly blamed for the recent reduction in Carrefour's earnings growth predictions for the next two years, and chairman Daniel Bernard said it could take Carrefour two years to return GB to profitability. {{NEWS }}