Carrefour Sees 25 Percent Increase in Profit

PARIS - Global retailer Carrefour SA today reported a 25 percent increase in first-half earnings, but remained cautious for the full year despite its aggressive plan for global store openings, Dow Jones Newswires reports.

The world's second-largest supermarket retailer said has benefited by its program to squeeze operating and finance costs. Net profit before one-off items rose to 400 million euros ($392 million) from 320 million.

Carrefour's French hypermarkets director Noel Prioux said Tuesday that trading in hypermarkets has improved in July and August.

The company said the first six months of the fiscal year traditionally delivers less than a third of Carrefour's profit, with back-to-school and Christmas sales kicking in during the final six-month period.

Net profit including one-off items grew 4.1 percent to 459 million euros from 441 million, which included a 121 million euro gain from the sale of frozen food retailer Picard.

The company said it plans to tackle its revenue slippage in the first half with a major step-up in store openings in the second half -- 31 new hypermarkets will be opened globally between July and December, the same number as for the whole of 2001.

The company Tuesday unveiled its first new hypermarket in France for seven years and said it would by year-end acquire one more in its home territory, which continues to account for half of group revenue and two-thirds of operating profit. Further hypermarket acquisitions in France next year remain a possibility, officials said Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Carrefour also said while ongoing currency woes in Latin America would have "a significant impact" on group sales, the profit-level effect would be marginal and said it would press on with store openings, including two new hypermarkets in Brazil in the second half.
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