PARIS — France’s Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer after Wal-Mart, on Wednesday reported improved third-quarter sales, lifted by better-than-expected gains at home.

But the hypermarket operator warned that difficult market conditions in Europe, particularly in France, showed few signs of improvement.

Sales in the three months ended Sept. 30 advanced 5.1 percent to 21.27 billion euros, or $26 billion at the average exchange rate, with sales rising 2.4 percent in France thanks to better food sales and price reductions.

Carrefour has grappled with a lackluster retail environment at home and increased competition from so-called hard discount chains.

Elsewhere, sales grew 6.1 percent in the rest of Europe, 11 percent in Latin America and 14.2 percent in Asia.

In the quarter, Carrefour opened 524 new stores, including 22 hypermarkets.

This story first appeared in the October 14, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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