Carrefour, the world's second-largest retailer, today (16 January) posted its slowest quarterly sales growth for five years, undershooting its revised full-year guidance.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 0.7% to EUR25.74bn (US$33.7bn) from EUR25.6bn for the comparable period of last year. Excluding acquisitions and currency changes, total sales rose 1.9% during the quarter.

Full-year sales rose 6.3% excluding currency exchange and acquisitions, below Carrefour's revised target of 6.5% sales growth.

The Paris-based company, which appointed Lars Olofsson to replace Jose Luis Duran as CEO on 1 January, has cut its sales and profit targets twice in the last financial year.

The company said it saw a "good" performance in its domestic market, where sales were up 1%, and achieved "sustained growth" in Spain, where sales increased 5.5%. In emerging markets, Carrefour posted stronger sales gains, up 19.7% at constant exchange rates.

Looking at its full-year performance, Carrefour reiterated that it aims to generate operating free cash flow of EUR1.5bn. Activity contribution is expected to record "slight growth" compared to 2007, the company said.

Commenting on the group's sales performance, Olofsson said: "Carrefour can and should further improve its performance. I am fully confident that our resources and financial strength will allow us to rise to the challenges ahead."