Système U president Serge Papin told French trade magazine LSA that 2009 was one of the best years for the group, with the retailer adding 1.6 million sq ft to its network.

Net sales were up 3.3% (excluding fuel) to E14.5bn (£12.66bn). Papin claimed that the company was the only retailer in France to see national brand sales grow by 1.8%.

He added that the group would be raising the quality of its economy private label range, Bien Vu, to the standard of, or better than, that of Lidl.