The 650 family members behind one of France's most secretive retail empires

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Snubs from the Mulliez family and other tycoons in the French mass market retail business are par for the course for journalist Bertrand Gobin. When he contacted Gérard Mulliez, founder of the Auchan supermarket and hypermarket chain, in 2011 about writing a book on the family and its extensive retail empire, the reply was uncompromising. “I do not wish any such book to be written ... I am categorically opposed to any reproduction of my image on the cover,” the patriarch of one of France's richest families replied.