Carrefour SA

PARIS — Carrefour posted a 3.1 percent increase in like-for-like sales over the fourth quarter and noted growth in Internet business for food products, as the grocery giant continues its ongoing restructuring efforts.

“Carrefour posted solid and profitable growth,” chief executive officer Alexandre Bompard said in a statement. “Our transformation plan is bearing fruit.”

Sales for the quarter were 21.7 billion euros, up 3.1 percent on a like-for-like basis, at constant rates and excluding its petrol business and calendar effects, with growth from Latin America helping to offset a 0.9 percent decline in France, its most important market.

Bompard is implementing a wide-sweeping overhaul of the French retailer, which has struggled under the weight of its sprawling big-box stores, or hypermarkets, as consumers opt for more convenient shopping, closer to home or through the Internet.

“We invested massively to catch up with the competition,” Bompard said in a conference call with analysts, referring to investments in digital and omnichannel systems.

Lackluster consumption and price wars in its home market have further complicated matters for the company, which said it saw improvement in its price positioning over the quarter thanks to the strengthening of loyalty schemes and repositioning its permanent prices.

At the same time, the company is bulking up its offer of organic produce, reducing the size of its hypermarkets and increasing the number of convenience stores.

Investments in digital means have resulted in a 30-plus percent increase in grocery sales over the Internet over the quarter, outpacing the market in France, Carrefour said.

The company recently bought a majority stake in Potager City, an online distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables in France and forged partnerships with fast delivery companies like Rappi in Brazil and Foodpanda in Taiwan.

It has also forged purchasing partnerships with companies like Tesco and has linked with Google to tackle the French grocery market through the development of new distribution models.

In terms of geographic regions, Carrefour’s Latin American operations rose 15.1 percent to 4.5 billion euros, with the company flagging improvement from Carrefour Retail and expansion of its Atacadão business. Meanwhile, in Europe, Carrefour said it saw a return to sales growth in Spain, with a 1.2 percent like-for-like increase while business in Italy continues to struggle, with a 2.2 percent decline, like-for like.

As part of its restructuring, Carrefour has also shed activities, including its Dia chain in France and Carrefour China business. The company confirmed financial targets associated with its 2022 plan, which include annual cost reductions, real estate asset disposals, and an increase of organic food sales and business through the Internet.

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