PARIS – Hit by the slowdown in consumer spending, Groupe Galeries Lafayette reported a 4 percent drop in 2008 net profits to 245 million euros, or $360.5 million.

Sales for the year inched up 1.9 percent to 5.05 billion euros, or $7.43 billion, buoyed by “good results” from the group’s Galeries Lafayette and Monoprix retail chains, its Royal Quartz and Louis Pion timepiece chain and Galeries Lafayette’s LaSer information services arm. Dollar figures are converted from average exchange rates for the period.

Operating profits for the period slid 4.4 percent to 413 million euros, or $607.7 million, impacted by store renovations, the acquisition of organic retailer Naturalia by Monoprix and the development of private labels.

The French retail group said its priorities for 2009 include growing its free cash flow and tightening costs.