8 Mar 2013

Tricky year ahead for supermarket chain

7:40 am on 8 March 2013

Carrefour, Europe's biggest supermarket chain, expects the year ahead to be tricky.

The company said on Thursday it would increase spending on its hypermarkets by about 2.2 billion euros ($US2.9 billion) to try to revive sales and profits.

But profits fell less than feared and shares rose 5% in early trading. Operating income, which excluded one-off gains and losses, fell by 2.6% to 2.1 billion euros.

Carrefour's giant stores have been hurt by competition from specialist stores and online shopping.

The BBC reports the company is trying to cut costs and compete harder on prices. It has raised 2.8 billion euros from selling its operations in Singapore and Colombia in 2012.

Net profit from continuing business was 113 million euros, after certain exceptional charges including changes to the company's tax payment.

Net debt was cut by 2.6 billion euros to 4.32 billion.