PARIS — Boosted by solid growth in international operations, Carrefour SA on Thursday reported a 1.4 percent rise in like-for-like sales in the first quarter, despite an unfavorable calendar effect — with Easter falling in the second quarter — and highly competitive environment. The retailer also confirmed its full-year outlook of 3 percent to 5 percent growth at constant exchange rates.
Revenues in the three months ended March 31 totaled 21.29 billion euros, or $22.67 billion, as petrol sales and currency impacts had positive effects on overall business. Excluding petrol and calendar effects, Carrefour’s organic sales for the period gained 1.9 percent.
Total sales at its hypermarkets, which represent just over half of the company’s domestic sales, dipped 1.6 percent on a like-for-like basis in an environment that remained highly promotional throughout the quarter. Carrefour Proximité stores registered a 5.5 percent revenue uptick.
Dollar figures are calculated at average exchange for the period to which they refer.
Sales in international activities for the retailer, the world’s second-largest after Wal-Mart Stores Inc., rose 2.1 percent excluding petrol and calendar effects, driven by Latin America. Brazil, Carrefour’s number-two market after France, continued to show strong growth “quarter after quarter,” despite its unfavorable economic environment, said chief financial officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon, during a conference call with analysts and journalists to discuss company results on Thursday.
Business was less rosy in Asia, where Carrefour’s sales declined 4 percent on a like-for-like basis, and revenues in China fell 5.5 percent.
Spain, where Carrefour ranks second, helped bolster the company’s European sales, which rose 0.9 percent in comparable terms. Since signing an agreement with the country’s Eroski Group last year to acquire 36 of its compact hypermarkets, mostly centered in the vicinity of Madrid, Carrefour is looking to open stores in 20 more cities across Spain, Sivignon said.
Like-for-like sales in France, which represents just over 40 percent of Carrefour’s global activity, inched up 0.5 percent to 9.4 billion euros, or $10 billion. The domestic business was dampened by the country’s ongoing promotional environment and pre-election doldrums.
Citing “strong growth” in e-commerce activities overall, with a 34 percent hike in sales in the period, Sivignon said the plan is to integrate slowly into other channels Rue du Commerce, the non-food e-commerce platform acquired by Carrefour last year.
“We want to gradually make the technology of Rue du Commerce — the back office, the middle office — available to the hypermarkets in the course of 2017, and to further enhance the marketplace offer,” he said.
Due to the growing moment of Carrefour’s omnichannel approach, a balanced geographic portfolio and continued progression in food sales, which generate more than 80 percent of total revenues, the company showed resilience, the executive said.
When queried, Sivignon declined to comment on whether Jacques Ehrmann, Carrefour’s executive director of patrimony, is the last remaining official internal candidate in the running for the company’s chief executive officer position, which, as reported, will be vacated by Georges Plassat in 2018.