France's Carrefour, the world's second largest retailer, says it is to form a joint venture with Geneva-based Swiss retailer, Maus Freres, to run 10 hypermarkets in Switzerland.
Announcing the deal on Wednesday, Carrefour said it would own 40 per cent of the joint venture, which will begin operating on January 1, 2001.
After five years its stake will increase to 50 per cent, strengthening Carrefour's presence in the Swiss market.
The family-owned Maus Freres group owns the Jumbo chain of hypermarkets, which is Switzerland's second-largest hypermarket chain after Migros.
Carrefour, second worldwide to US giant Wal-Mart, declined to give any financial details of the deal.
For Maus Freres, which also owns Switzerland's biggest chain of department stores, Manor, the buying power of the French giant will help it pass on lower prices.
"We needed to find a partner with a leading European position in buying. These advantages will be of direct benefit to Swiss consumers," Maus chairman, Didier Maus, said in a statement.
The Jumbo hypermarket chain will be renamed Carrefour during 2001.
swissinfo with agencies