Carrefour wins the award for the best alliance between a Major Group and a start-up


The alliance between Carrefour and Phenix is the story of a French retail giant which – in a bid to reduce its unsold food items from being wasted – calls upon the recycling services of a young innovative company.

Their adventure began back in July 2014, only four months after Phenix has been set up. Jean Moreau, the start-up's co-founder, met Sophie Fourchy, Director of the Carrefour Foundation, and presented his idea to her: recycle waste by redistributing unsold food items and industrial surplus across networks of charities and recycling companies. What the company does involves a digital platform via which surplus supply and demand can be reconciled in real time, as well as collaborative fieldwork and bespoke logistical support.

The Carrefour Foundation therefore introduced the young company to the head of the Carrefour Market department, who got a pilot project up and running at an initial Market store up in early 2015. The pilot proved tremendously successful!

Then the Innovation department, which was set up in 2015, crossed paths with Phenix. This department was set up to facilitate discussion and break down any barriers which might get in the way, putting people in contact with the Group's right representatives. And this was far from easy in a Group which employs more than 5000 people at the France head office alone. Thanks to its network of innovators at all levels across the whole company, this is now a reality.

Carrefour has since drawn on the external ecosystem of its Innovation department and succeeded in getting Phenix to shine, doing all it can to raise this young start-up's profile. When Carrefour attended Viva Technology for the first time in 2016, Phenix was among the 50 start-ups at its Food & Retail Lab and won the “Food” pitch. Jean Moreau was also on the panel – as one of the experts – at the Group's second hackathon in May.

Carrefour has rolled out Phenix’s solution to fifty-five Carrefour Market stores and around twenty convenience stores – including some Carrefour City stores.

For this young company, such an alliance has been an opportunity for it to demonstrate the utility of its model and its own ability to roll its solution out to a high numbers of stores. And in the wake of this first partnership, a fully-fledged virtuous circle has since taken shape involving other companies in the sector. The partnership currently covers seventy stores, accounts for 20% of Phenix's sales and has created fifteen jobs.

For the Carrefour Group as it transitions over to the circular economy, Phenix’s solution is in line with its own commitment to tackling wastage and redistributing 30% of its broken and unsold stock among charities. The impacts of the alliance can be felt from both an economic and environmental perspective. On the one hand, by becoming one of the sector's major retailers committed to reducing food wastage, Carrefour is succeeding in meeting its CSR target. And on the other hand, implementing Phenix’s solution has helped reduce the waste treatment costs of Carrefour stores by 40%.

So this partnership is extremely strategic both for the David… and for the Goliath. After two years of working together, the relationship is continuing to grow – it even looks set to cross the Spanish border with the signing of a partnership between Phenix and Carrefour Spain.


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