French retail giant Casino will have more than 1,300 Leader Price stores - the discount chain it acquired in 1997 - thus trebling its estate over the next eight years, according to IGD forecasts.

In its new strategic report on Casino, IGD said it expected Leader Price - with a 7% operating profit margin in 2001 compared to the group’s total of 3.9% - to continue to be the fastest growing format within Casino.

French retail giant Casino has been forecasted to achieve a 16 % annual growth rate between 2001 and 2005 driven by Leader Price, with its aggressive development plans for Leader Price, both in France and internationally. It plans to roll out 20 new stores a year in France until it reaches its target of 600, according to IGD.

IGD international programme manager Louise Spillard said: “Casino has a strong bias towards smaller stores which cater to consumers’ growing need for convenience.

“In fact 71% of its operating profit is currently generated by what it calls ‘convenience formats’ including supermarkets, c-stores and discount stores such as Leader Price.”