By  on October 17, 2007

PARIS — Carrefour on Tuesday said growth in South America, Eastern Europe and Asia offset tough business at home in France as it reported that third-quarter sales rose by 5.8 percent.

Sales in the three-month period through Sept. 30 improved to 23.1 billion euros, or $31.78 billion, lifted by store openings in Poland, Brazil and China. Currency conversions were made at average exchange rates for the period.

Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer after Wal-Mart, expanded store space 12 percent in the quarter, with 80 percent of that room added in the retailer's fastest-growing markets. On a like-for-like basis, the hypermarket operator's sales declined a tenth of a percent.

In France, where fierce competition from hard-discount outlets has hurt Carrefour, sales dropped 2 percent to 10.4 billion euros, or $14.3 billion, the company said.

The firm blamed the decline on a negative calendar impact, poor summer weather that eroded apparel sales and the late start to Carrefour's traditional fall promotional season.

In the rest of Europe, sales improved 5.1 percent to 8.56 billion euros, or $11.78 billion, led by a 54 percent gain in sales in Poland and double-digit gains in Romania and Turkey. Spain was also robust, registering 1.2 percent growth in like-for-like sales. In Italy and Belgium, however, sales declined 2 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

Sales in South America grew 52.8 percent to 2.61 billion euros, or $3.59 billion, thanks to revenue increases of 65 percent in Brazil, 29 percent in Argentina and 33 percent in Colombia as Carrefour opened new stores aggressively in those countries.

Asia was equally strong for the retailer as sales grew 12.5 percent to 1.54 billion euros, or $2.12 billion, spurred by 23 percent growth in China, where Carrefour has opened 11 new stores since the beginning of the year.

Carrefour published the figures after the close of the Paris Bourse. The firm's shares climbed 0.53 percent Tuesday to close at 47.71 euros, or $67.27 at current exchange.

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