French giant Carrefour and Dutch grocer Ahold bucked the downturn to reveal resilient third quarter sales in the face of global economic turmoil.

Total group sales at Carrefour climbed 6.8 per cent to 24.7 billion (£19.7 billion). Sales in France rose 3.5 per cent, with like-for-likes up 3.2 per cent. Outside France, its mature European markets reported an uplift of 3.5 per cent at constant exchange rates and sales in its growth markets jumped 15.8 per cent.

The grocer said hypermarket sales in France improved, with like-for-like sales excluding petrol down 0.4 per cent, compared with a fall of 3.4 per cent in the first half.

Carrefour chief executive José Luis Duran said the improvement in its hypermarkets division was driven by promotions and added that this activity would be stepped up in the fourth quarter.

Bernstein analyst Christopher Hogbin said the performance should reassure investors concerned about the grocer’s ability to meet its full-year targets. He said the improvement suggested “the step up in promotional activity initiated in July is having a positive impact already”.

The group will continue its cost-cutting efforts to weather the economic storm. Duran said: “We are likely to see changes in current consumption patterns with trade-offs between national brands and own-brands in food, highly selective discretionary spending in non-food and customer focus on promotions.”

Ahold revealed net sales of 5.8 billion (£4.6 billion) for its third quarter – up 3.9 per cent on the same period last year. Net sales grew 4.4 per cent at its Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover fascias, rose 11.8 per cent at Giant-Carlisle and increased 12.2 per cent at Albert Heijn.

Hogbin said: “Ahold’s Q3 trading update provided some evidence that the Value Improvement Program is working in the US business.”

However, he added: “The good news from Ahold’s US business is tempered somewhat by a sharp slowdown in the underlying growth rate of the Dutch business with like-for-like – excluding fuel – growth slowing from 11.8 per cent in Q2 to 8.3 per cent in Q3.”