NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report) strategy of expanding overseas has a cautionary tale in Carrefour, the French-based discounter that has often gone where Wal-Mart feared to tread.
When in Chengdu, China almost five years ago, for instance, I stopped at a Carrefour, a Wal-Mart being unavailable. It was similar to the Wal-Marts of 20 years ago, with merchandise heaped up in bins, close together, prices advertised above, and crowds of shoppers pawing through everything.
Around that time we were reporting that Carrefour's sales were "slowing." Subsequently, that slowing turned into a rout, from which the company is only now recovering. Had I bought Carrefour stock back then, I'd have just about broken even by now. Wal-Mart, by contrast, is up 71%.
Global retailing is hard.
Even Carrefour recognizes that, because its latest strategy is focused on its "home" market of Europe, buying the malls where many of its "hypermarkets" sit.
[Read: The Cause of Wal-Mart's Trouble Is Its Success]
[Read: Apple Bears Fruit: Widows, Orphans Take Note]
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