French supermarket giant Carrefour defied analysts’ forecasts by reporting first-quarter revenues of €23.38 billion (£18.6 billion) for the three months to March 31, despite trading in China being hit by anti-French protests over the Olympics.

Sales in France, which makes up about half of Carrefour’s revenues, rose 2.6 per cent to €10.11 billion (£8.04 billion) and in Spain they increased 8 per cent to €3.56 billion (£2.83 billion). Overall sales in Belgium fell 1.6 per cent.

However, Carrefour’s hike of 6.8 per cent in its group sales was driven primarily by its performance in emerging markets. Like-for-like sales in Latin America rose 15.6 per cent, while in Asia they increased 8.6 per cent.

Carrefour’s hypermarkets recorded an 8.8 per cent fall in non-food sales, which it blamed on a decline in discretionary spending.

Carrefour drew the ire of many Chinese people after Paris’s chaotic hosting of the Olympic torch in April, when pro-Tibet protesters attempted to snatch the flame from wheelchair-bound athlete Jin Jing. Many Chinese reacted by taking to the streets and calling for a boycott of French goods, targeting Carrefour in particular.

Carrefour chairman José Luis Duran told analysts in a conference call: “About China ... when you have thousands of people in front of your stores demonstrating and boycotting, I would say the business is more difficult than before.”

The sales figures were reported just a day after Carrefour announced that it had appointed French billionaire Bernard Arnault to its supervisory board.