BERLIN — Despite declining sales, the Metro Group said third-quarter net profit before special items jumped 31.8 percent to 251 million euros, or $355.4 million.
The German retail group — which spans cash-and-carry, department store, hypermarket and electronics chains — saw sales decline 2 percent in the quarter to 15.98 billion euros, or $22.62 billion. In local currency, sales slipped 0.7 percent.
Dollar figures are converted from the euro at an average exchange rate for the period.
Chief executive officer Eckhard Cordes, who will step down when his contract expires Oct. 31, 2012, noted the group was up against strong comps for the quarter in 2010. In a conference call, he asserted that group sales development was “acceptable” given macro-economic conditions.
Sales at the Kaufhof department store division were down 6.3 percent for the quarter, leading to an EBIT loss of 13 million euros, or $18.4 million, compared to a profit of 7 million euros, or $ 9 million, a year ago. Cordes attributed the weak performance to unseasonable weather conditions, with July and August too cold for summer business and September too warm for fall.
As reported, two bids for the 139-store chain by the Signa real estate group and Karstadt department store owner Nicolas Berggruen were made known yesterday. Cordes said the group was “talking to several interested parties, including Signa, but we are at a very early stage. But the interest shows Kaufhof is an asset.”
Metro confirmed its revised forecast for 2011, and the group said it is confident it will achieve earnings growth before special items of about 10 percent. Sales, adjusted for portfolio changes, are expected to exceed 2010 levels. Cordes added he was confident Christmas business would be better than last year.