French retail group Casino has reported a slight decline in sales for the first quarter of 2003 to €5.3 billion, due mainly to a double digit slide in international sales. But at constant exchange rates, the company posted growth of 5.6 per cent overall.
The first quarter figures were in line with Casino's targets for the year, and the reflected the company's increasing stronghold in growth segments such as convenience stores and discount operations.
In France, growth of 5.2 per cent came on the back of solid gains in same-store sales and despite a poor March for the whole of the French retail sector (in part due to the late Easter period). The company increased its sales space by more than 30,000 square metres during the quarter, of which three quarters came from the Leader Price and Franprix discount stores and from Petit Casino superettes.
Outside France, sales rose 6.9 per cent at constant exchange rates, but dropped 18.5 per cent in real terms as a result of adverse exchange rates. There was a solid recovery in organic sale in Latin America during the quarter, although currency problems there continued to take their toll on results in euros.
Casino is predicting a further improvement in the remainder of the year, and says that it expects to see organic growth of more than 6 per cent for the year as a whole.