PARIS — Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer behind Wal-Mart, on Thursday reported higher-than-expected first-half net profit and raised its full-year revenue growth target to 6 percent from 5 percent at current exchange rates.

The French hypermarket giant said net profit grew 9.7 percent to $715 million, or 662 million euros, from $653.3 million, or 604 million euros, a year ago. Earnings before interest and taxes grew 7.1 percent to $1.25 billion, or 1.16 billion euros, from $1.16 billion, or 1.08 billion last year. Dollar figures have been converted from the euro at current exchange.

For the first six months, sales grew 6 percent to $36.26 billion, or 33.58 billion euros, at constant exchange rates. Factoring in the impact of currency fluctuations, they grew 1.5 percent.

Chief executive Daniel Bernard told a gathering of reporters here that he was “confident for 2003,” adding that the negative currency effects of the first half would become “extremely minor in the second half.”

Bernard said the group remained focused on organic growth and controlling costs while making strategic acquisitions in countries where Carrefour is already an established presence.

Carrefour opened 395 new stores in the first half. Another 400 units are expected to bow before the end of December, elevating the group’s number of stores to more than 10,000.

In China, another 50 Dia discount stores are slated to bow by yearend. By 2007, Bernard said Carrefour would operate between 500 and 600 Dia stores in China. Since July, 12 Dia stores have been rolled out in and around Shanghai.

Besides its Carrefour hypermarkets, the group’s banners include the Champion, Shoppi and Proxi supermarket chains.

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