By  on January 13, 2009

BERLIN - The Metro Group reported 2008 group sales grew 5.9 percent to reach $100.05 billion (68 billion euros). Dollar figures are converted from the euro at an average exchange rate for the period.

Adjusted for currency effects, group sales were up 6.1 percent. Exports now account for about 61 percent, but the group, which operates around 2,200 stores in 32 countries, noted non-domestic growth slowed over the year.

Sales gains for the fourth quarter decelerated to 3 percent, though Metro described its German Christmas business as “satisfactory.”

The German retail giant, which is comprised of the main Cash & Carry division, Galeria Kaufhof department stores as well as electronics chains, supermarkets and hypermarkets, did not release profit figures. However, the Dusseldorf-based group said it expects 2008 EBIT growth to be in line with sales growth.

The 141 door Galeria Kaufhof department store chain saw sales slip 1.1 percent in 2008 to $5.15 billion (3.5 billion euros). In the fourth quarter, sales were down 0.6 percent. Last year, Metro said it was looking to sell its department store division that has 126 stores in Germany and 15 in Belgium, but there have been no developments since.

Metro did not make any forecasts for 2009, other than to say that it expects it to be a “challenging year.”  The group is reviewing cost structures and reducing capital expenditures to a maximum of 1.6 billion euros to increase flexibility and strengthen its competitive position.

Final sales and profit figures will be released March 24 at Metro’s annual financial press conference.  

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