• US Health and beauty giant Walgreens reported net earnings for the second quarter ending February 28 down 6.7 per cent to $640m (£450.5m). Total sales increased 7 per cent to $16.5bn (£11.6bn), while comparable store sales rose 1.3 per cent.

Prescription sales, which accounted for 63 per cent of the total, climbed 7.8 per cent. Prescription sales in comparable stores increased 2.9 per cent.

The retailer said the “underlying strength of the best community-based retail network and the Walgreens brand, along with our lower cost structure and financial flexibility, will enable us to emerge from the current challenging environment well positioned for the future”.

  • US The world’s biggest games retailer GameStop said profits soared 38.2 per cent to $398.3m (£280.4m) in the year to January 31 and expects 2009 to be “another record year”.

The figure included debt retirement costs and merger-related expenses of $6.9m (£4.8m). Like-for-like sales jumped 12.3 per cent and total sales rose 24.1 per cent to $8.8bn (£6.19bn). Like-for-likes in the fourth quarter increased
9.6 per cent on sales of $3.5bn (£2.46bn).

Chief executive Daniel DeMatteo said: “Our affinity with consumers, combined with our solid business model, prudent financial management practices, expansive brand presence and strategic merchandising, allowed us to achieve a record eighth straight year of sales and earnings growth.”

  • US Value retailer Dollar General defied the downturn with adjusted EBITDA up 34 per cent to $914m (£643.6m) in the year to January 30.

Like-for-like sales jumped 9 per cent and total sales increased 10.1 per cent to $10.5bn (£7.42bn). In the fourth quarter the 8,000-store retailer’s like-for-likes advanced 9.4 per cent and sales climbed 11.2 per cent to $2.85bn (£2.01bn).

Chairman and chief executive Rick Dreiling (pictured) said: “We are very pleased with our fourth quarter and fiscal 2008 financial results. During the year we grew sales and expanded gross profit by successfully implementing
programmes to improve our store operations
and merchandising.”

  • FRANCE Auchan posted like-for-like sales up 4.3 per cent at constant exchange rates in 2008. Total sales rose 7.5 per cent to E39.5bn (£36.65bn), while EBITDA climbed 9.2 per cent to E2.26bn (£2.11bn).

Hypermarket sales rose 8.4 per cent to E31.8bn (£29.51bn) and supermarket sales advanced 2.9 per cent to E6.9bn (£6.4bn).

In 2009, Auchan is scheduled to open about 60 hypermarket. Its international operations account for 50 per cent of total sales.

  • GERMANY Metro posted group sales up 5.8 per cent to E68bn (£63.2bn) last year, when
    EBIT before special items increased 7.1 per cent to E2.2bn (£2bn).

Sales rose 2 per cent in its domestic market and 8.4 per cent internationally. The retailer said that in the difficult economic climate “there are opportunities for healthy companies” and it is “determined to leverage them”.

Metro will take its electronics chain Media Markt to China in 2010.

Japan is facing consumer price deflation. We expect the consumer price index to be minus year-on-year from march

Akira Maekawa, UBS


  • AUSTRALIA EBIT at department store group Myer rose 6.6 per cent to AUS$161m (£77.2m) in the half-year to the end of January, although sales were down 3.7 per cent to AUS$1.76bn (£844.1m). Like-for-likes dropped 3.7 per cent.

The 74-store retailer, which is 32 months into a 50-month turnaround strategy, said it has gained market share.

Chief executive Bernie Brookes said Myer’s cost control, improved store execution and advertising has allowed it to “stay ahead of the curve and deliver increased profits, despite a fall in sales”.

  • HONG KONG Hutchison Whampoa revealed that sales at its retail division increased 8 per cent to HK$118.48bn (£10.77bn) in the year to December 31. EBIT rose 18 per cent to HK$4.37bn (£397.1m).

The parent company of AS Watson, which operates health and beauty retailers Superdrug, Savers and The Perfume Shop in the UK and Marionnaud in France, blamed “difficult market conditions” in the two countries for worse than expected results. Its operations in all other markets improved.

  • RUSSIA French grocery giant Carrefour is poised to open its first store in Russia. It will reportedly open in Moscow in May, near Marks & Spencer and Zara. Carrefour is also thought to be in negotiations to buy Moscow’s top grocery chain, Seventh Continent.

Carrefour’s rival Auchan opened in Moscow in 2002 and now has more than 30 stores in Russia.

Last week the grocer launched its first Bulgarian store in Burgas. The 89,340 sq ft hypermarket stocks 50,000 food and non-food items.

  • SWEDEN Homewares and furniture giant Ikea is to open stores in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia in Ikea shopping centres – which combine an Ikea store with a shopping centre – possibly by autumn 2010, as it expands further into Eastern Europe.

The 259-store international retailer said it is at a “very preliminary stage, so things could change”. A spokesman explained: “Everything depends on the right conditions, such as how soon we will be able to find suitable sites.” Locations being considered include Serbian cities such as Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis. Work is already under way for a shopping centre in Rugvica Municipality, Croatia.

Ikea shopping centres, already operate in markets including Poland, Slovakia, Russia, China and Spain.

  • US Southern grocery chain Bi-Lo has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to deal with forthcoming debt maturity.

The retailer, which remains open and trading, said in a normal economic climate it would have expected to refinance in the “ordinary course of business”. However, in the difficult climate it said a “court-supervised restructuring is appropriate”.

Bi-Lo will strengthen its liquidity via a $100m (£70.4m) debtor-in-possession facility arranged by GE Capital, which will be used to support operational cash flow upon court approval.

The grocer runs 215 supermarkets in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.