The history of hypermarkets and supermarkets in France is connected to the American evolution of the grocery store. The basic principle of hypermarkets in France is expressed by the phrase Tout Sous le meme toit, which means ‘everything under the same roof.’

Supermarkets began to appear in France in the 1950’s while hypermarkets appeared in the early 1960’s. The hypermarkets had food and non-food items and also had many shops within the same building. Supermarkets also offered discount price policies, enabled because of the number of branches.

Emile Zola in his famous book Au bonheur des Dames (Ladies’ Paradise) in 1883, Emile tells the story of Octave Mouret whose real name was Aristide Boucicaut. Boucicaut and his partner Justin Videau opened Au Bon Marche in 1852 in a large 100 square meters location, which was the largest store space then. This large floor space forms one of the principles of hypermarkets, which is having a large area with different stores offering all customers need.

Stores before this were small due to prohibitions by trade guilds in the European region, but in 1791 the Constitution Assembly passed the Le Chapelier Act that prohibited trade guilds and laid the foundation for expansion in retail business. Boucicaut successfully implemented concepts in the French retail industry trade such as fixed prices, explicit labeling, return of items, delivery services and other services.

The big six in the French retail business now are Carrefour, Intermarche, Leclerc (together with System U), Casino, Auchan and Cora. These six big retail brand names have more than 5,000 supermarkets and more than 1,000 hypermarkets all over France. They hold the biggest chunk of the total retail business in the country.