By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - Privately-held French supermarket operator Leclerc said on Wednesday it planned to launch a food delivery service in Paris this year, in the face of competition from Amazon.
Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods in the United States last year has prompted speculation that the tech company could be targeting the European food and supermarket sector next.
Asked what he could to counter the possible entry of Amazon into the French food retail market, chief executive Michel-Edouard Leclerc told RMC radio and BFM TV: "We will, before the end of this spring, launch a home delivery service in Paris".
"We, the former provincial grocers...We will take on the Amazon challenge in the most expensive French city," he added.
The new service will be called 'Leclerc Chez Moi' (Leclerc In My Home) and will price its food products at 15-20 percent below those of competitors.
Amazon has run its Amazon Prime Now express delivery service in Paris since 2016, and the speedy delivery of food has become a new battleground among retailers seeking to boost sales.
Leclerc said in October that he had been approached by Amazon over possible logistics partnerships, as speculation grew over Amazon's intentions in the supermarket sector.
Separately, French retailer Casino declined to comment on Wednesday on a report by the LSA retail industry news website that Casino's Monoprix store chain was in advanced talks with Amazon to join its Prime Now service.
"Casino does not comment on rumors," a spokeswoman said.
Last week, Carrefour unveiled plans to cut jobs, boost its E-commerce investment and seek a partnership in China with Tencent given the challenges from Amazon.
Under the plan, Carrefour said it would be offering more and faster home delivery, and it also signed a partnership with a unit of France's post office La Poste.
This will allow Carrefour to expand its one-hour Livraison Express service, created in Paris, to 10 new cities in 2018.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)