Axing three board members from its French hypermarket unit shows Carrefour is willing to act aggressively to tackle its domestic problems, say analysts following the French retailer. But coming on the back of a lacklustre set of December sales figures, the dismissals have fuelled rumours that there are serious problems at Carrefour's French operation, which has steadily lost market share over the past year. A spokesman said the changes had nothing to do with the poor sales figures or difficulties relating to the integration of Promodès. But Goldmann Sachs analyst Nick Jones suggested the move demonstrated the integration of Promodès was proving "more problematic" than anticipated. London broker Schroder Salomon Smith Barney recently downgraded the French retailing giant after it released a "disappointing" set of December sales figures. They showed a "significant deterioration" in France (where like for like sales at hypermarkets underperformed the sector by 2.9%), a "dire" performance in Argentina and lacklustre results in Spain and Brazil. Société Générale analyst Mike Dennis said Carrefour's international operations were under rising pressure from global players like Wal-Mart and Tesco, while fellow French group Casino had outperformed it in France and Brazil. But it was important not to lose perspective, cautioned one City analyst: "The long-term strategy is good, and while the 2000 sales figures were below expectations, it takes time to integrate the supply chain operations of two very different companies." {{NEWS }}