French retail giant remains upbeat
Full-year profits at French grocery giant Carrefour fell 15.6 per cent to Eu1.44 billion (£989 billion) last year, as the retailer's core French operations continued to suffer from intense domestic price competition.

Operating profits were down 2.9 per cent to Eu3.18 billion (£2.18 billion) on sales that rose 4.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

However, the store group was upbeat and expects an increase in operating profit this year, based on an increase in sales growth from last year's levels. Carrefour forecasts a 10 per cent increase for both sales and operating profit by 2008.

Chief executive Jean-Louis Duran said: '2005 was a year of complete cleaning up. We have taken all the necessary decisions for turning the company around and putting it on the right track. We will continue to strengthen our commercial model by improving assortments, reinforcing our teams in-store, strengthening our brands and developing customer loyalty programmes.'

The company said its top priority remains price leadership, as it continues to compete with the emergence of hard-discount retailers.

Carrefour plans to open about 100 hypermarkets this year and a total of 1,000 stores overall.