PARIS — Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, on Tuesday downgraded full-year goals and reported weaker-than-expected third-quarter sales.

Carrefour said sales in the three months through September gained 2.9 percent to 20.31 billion euros, or $24.82 billion, slightly below analysts’ consensus expectations. On a like-for-like basis, sales gained 0.6 percent, the French retailer said. Dollar figures are at average exchange rates.

Carrefour has been fighting weak consumer spending in Europe, particularly in its core French market, and fierce competition from cheaper hard discount chains.

Blaming “deteriorating” market conditions, Carrefour said it would miss full-year guidance provided last month for 5 percent sales growth excluding currency effects and double-digit growth in earnings per share.

In France, sales were flat at 9.99 billion euros, or $11.79 billion. Sales at French hypermarkets declined 2.6 percent to 5.09 billion euros, or $6.01 billion, while sales at its French supermarkets — including the Proxi and Champion banners — gained 5.8 percent to 2.10 billion, or $2.48 billion.

Sales at Carrefour’s hard discount units in France gained 13.9 percent to 554 million euros, or $653.7 million.

In Europe, sales gained 5.8 percent to 7.46 billion euros, or $8.8 billion, while in Latin America sales gained 2.2 percent to 1.4 billion euros, or $1.65 billion. Carrefour said sales in Asia gained 9.9 percent to 1.46 billion euros, or $1.72 billion.

Meanwhile, a Carrefour spokesman denied reports that it would sell its operations in Japan.

In September Carrefour said it would cut net debt 20 percent by 2006 by disposing of noncore assets and unprofitable stores.

This story first appeared in the October 13, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.