BERLIN — Net profits for the Metro Group slipped 3.9 percent in the fourth quarter to 769 million euros, or $1.01 billion. Earnings for the three months ended Dec. 31, as well as the full year, were impacted by special charges related to the streamlining of the group’s Real supermarket network, plus writeoffs for the now-sold Adler fashion and Extra Hypermarket operations.

This story first appeared in the March 25, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Operative profits (EBIT) increased 4.8 percent in the quarter to 1.37 billion euros, or $1.81 billion, while sales rose 2.9 percent to 20.11 billion euros, or $26.52 billion. Dollar figures are converted at average exchange rates for the respective periods.

The figures were marked by Galeria Kaufhof’s fourth consecutive operative earnings increase, which Metro linked to the chain’s consistent trading up strategy. Fourth-quarter sales for the department store division dropped 1.1 percent to 3.5 billion euros, or $5.15 billion.

For the full year, net group profits (not adjusted for special charges) dropped 31 percent to 725 million euros, or $1.07 billion. When adjusted for special charges, group EBIT rose 7.1 percent to 2.2 billion euros, or $3.24 billion.

In line with preliminary sales figures released in January, 2008 sales for the group — which include the core Cash & Carry division, Galeria Kaufhof department stores as well as electronics chains, supermarkets and hypermarkets — grew 5.8 percent to 68 billion euros, or $100.05 billion.

Citing the “high level of uncertainty caused by the difficult global economic development,” Metro Group is refraining from issuing financial guidance for the full year. However, the group anticipates weaker sales — projected to be flat for the first quarter — will impact 2009 earnings.