PARIS - Carrefour, Europe's largest retailer, said on Monday it had named two deputy chief executives to assist Chairman and CEO Georges Plassat while he recovers from surgery.
The two appointees are Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon and General Secretary Jerome Bedier, the group said in a statement.
The two remained "in close contact" with 65 year-old Plassat while George Ralli, a Carrefour board member and head of the IPF Partners investment fund, would become vice-chairman.
The news comes as Carrefour begins to reap the benefits of Plassat's efforts to revive the group's core European business.
A Carrefour spokeswoman said Plassat, who has been heading Carrefour since 2012, would be away for "a few weeks" without providing further details on the nature of the surgery.
Carrefour, the world's largest retailer after Wal-Mart unveils its annual earnings next month and it was not immediately clear if Plassat would be back in time.
Carrefour shares fell in early trade but recovered to stand 0.69 per cent higher at 28.370 euros by 1122 GMT while the European retail sector was off 0.4 per cent. "The situation at Carrefour is more stable and serene than three years ago, so if there is a vacancy at the top it is less of an issue," said Barclays analyst Nicolas Champ.
Carrefour, which makes 73 per cent of its sales in Europe, has suffered from a reliance on the hypermarket format it pioneered as customers shift to more local and online shopping.
In response, Plassat has cut costs and prices, freshened up stores and given greater autonomy to store managers, starting in France.
Under Plassat's leadership Carrefour has exited a number of non-core international markets to better focus its efforts and resources on Europe and core emerging markets of China and Brazil.
The retailer has said it would be ready to go ahead with an IPO in Brazil this year if market conditions permit.
Sivignon joined Carrefour in 2011 and also oversees Southern Europe, while Bedier, who came in 2012, is mainly in charge of international partnerships.