Employees of the Carrefour Hypermarket in Raanana, Israel, stock shelves before the French firm's opening in the country

Raanana (Israel) (AFP) - French retailer Carrefour inaugurated on Tuesday 50 stores in Israel, becoming the first foreign supermarket chain with branches in the country whose residents struggle with a high cost of living.

“It’s a very big day for Carrefour,” CEO Alexandre Bompard said at the inauguration of a supermarket in the central Israeli city of Raanana.

“We know that the expectations for Carrefour Israel are high, and we want to live up to those expectations… We want to do that with affordable prices.”

Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub, was ranked the world’s most expensive city by The Economist magazine in 2021. Simmering rage over costs and income inequality dominated the country’s elections in November.

Inflation hit 5.2 percent year-on-year, the central bank said in April, a record high for Israel in more than a decade.

Many of the 50 new supermarkets are located in the Tel Aviv area.

Carrefour, which already has a worldwide presence including in the Middle East, said in a statement it had invested 250 million shekels ($68 million) in the Israeli franchise, and expects to open up to 50 more stores across the country by the end of the year.

Bompard said the company was also looking to develop a range of kosher products to cater to Israel’s Jewish majority.

In a video released Monday by his office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen at one of the new branches, calling Carrefour’s entry into the Israeli market “great news” that will bring lower prices for local consumers.

Carrefour announced in March 2022 it had partnered with Israeli retailer Electra Consumer Products and its subsidiary, supermarket chain Yenot Bitan.