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Weak French performance hits Carrefour H1 profits as new CEO takes over

PARIS, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, posted a steeper-than-expected 21.5 percent fall in first-half operating profit, as cut-throat competition hit margins in its core French market, highlighting the challenges faced by new chief executive Alexandre Bompard.

Europe's largest retailer said first-half recurring operating profit fell to 621 million euros ($740.42 million) at constant exchange rates, below the average estimate of 666 million in a Reuters poll.

In France alone, operating profits fell 36.1 percent to 199 million euros, reflecting price cuts undertaken to compete better with domestic rivals.

Bompard, 44, took over on July 18, replacing Georges Plassat, 68, who had been at the helm since 2012..

In a sign that a new era was starting, Carrefour announced that Laurent Vallee, 46, would replace Jerome Bedier, 61, as general secretary for the group.

($1 = 0.8387 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)