Almacenes Exito SA has reported a dramatic fall in its first quarter net profits.

Colombia's largest retailer said in a statement today that it had posted a net profit of COP2.05bn (US$880,000) in the first quarter, down 89% on the same period last year.

Sales at the retailer were down 4.2% to COP1.59tn, whilst operating profit fell to COP26.52bn, down from COP47.32bn in the first quarter of 2008.

Gonzalo Restrepo López, Almacenes Exito's CEO said: "The current macroeconomic situation and the decline in consumer spending have impacted the retail industry as a whole and have had a temporary effect on the results obtained by Exito, the leading retail chain in Colombia.

"We have allied with our customers with savings campaigns and our customer loyalty programmes, which are unique to the Colombian retail industry; and in this sense we are also promoting our private label business as an important source of customer savings."

Exito is controlled by French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon S, which reports its results later today.