Who's that in Wal-Mart's rear-view mirror? It's Daniel Bernard, president of France's Carrefour. After acquiring fellow French retailer Promodes last year, Bernard, 54, is running the world's No. 2 discount chain. True, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s $160 billion in sales last year dwarfed Carrefour's $65 billion. But after overseeing Carrefour's push into foreign markets, Bernard is plenty optimistic.
When Bernard took over in 1992, Carrefour was renowned as the inventor of the superstore, selling groceries and an array of other goods under one roof. But it had scarcely expanded outside France and Spain. Today it has 9,000 stores in 26 countries from China to Argentina. Wal-Mart, by contrast, has only recently moved into Europe and Latin America. "We are pioneers," Bernard says.
The low-key Bernard worked his way up through the industry after graduating from France's Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales. Before joining Carrefour, he oversaw German retailer Metro's move into Central Europe. Look for Bernard to keep his foot on the gas at Carrefour.