The joint venture between French retailer Leclerc and Italian co-operative organisation CONAD - has opened its first five hypermarkets in Italy.

The E Leclerc-Conad hypermarket chain - formerly under the Planeta banner - is to focus on “highly” competitive price positioning. And intends to bring in the lowest prices both at local and national levels.

The two partners said the objective is to manage 30 E Leclerc-CONAD hypermarkets in Italy by 2005 with five of these planned to come under the new banner in early 2003.

E Leclerc has a 17% market share in France while CONAD is the second-ranking retailer in Italy with a market share of 10.1%.