German retail group Metro is to close or sell 27 of its underperforming Real hypermarkets in Germany by the end of next year to lift profitability.

The news follows the revelation in March that Metro was considering shutting up to 40 loss-making Real stores that are understood to account for losses of about 50 million (£39.4 million) a year.

Metro has closed nine of its Real stores across Germany this year already and a spokesman said the future of the 70 former Wal-Mart stores, which it acquired in 2006, will come under scrutiny later this year.

There are more than 250 Real stores in Germany and half of the latest tranche of disposals will be in Berlin. Metro wants to sell five of the Berlin stores as going concerns to local operators.

Planet Retail analyst Bianca Casertano said: “This is a struggling banner. They want to get rid of their underperforming stores and this is the first step.”

In a related move, Real sales director Arno Neutgens will become managing director of Real 4, a sister company founded at the beginning of this year to deal with the disposal of unwanted Real branches.

Separately, Metro unveiled a new-look Real Future Store last month in the German town of Tönisvorst (Retail Week, June 6). It is trialling a range of new technologies in the store, including an application for mobile phones dubbed the Mobile Shopping Assistant and a variety of interactive terminals, such as a high-tech wine-tasting station and beauty counters that provide advice.

Sales at Metro Group – which also includes department store chain Galeria Kaufhof, electricals fascias Media Markt and Saturn, and the Extra and Makro brands – jumped 10.4 per cent, to 64.3 billion (£50.68 billion) last year.