Finland-based retailer S Group has warned the slowdown in the country will continue this year.

The co-op, which labelled 2013 "a difficult year", reported a profit before extraordinary items and taxes of EUR226m (U$309.7m), compared to EUR212m in 2012.

However, S Group's said its "operational result" was lower, standing at EUR196m, versus EUR206m in 2012.

Retail sales, excluding VAT, were up 1.2% at EUR11.35bn, helped by higher grocer sales.

However, S Group said last year's challenging economic conditions, amid a slowdown in consumption and low consumer confidence, would continue in 2014.

"The slowdown of retail trade will also continue this year. According to a forecast by the Finnish Commerce Federation, a recovery can only be expected in 2015," S Group said.

CEO Taavi Heikkilä added: "In addition to strict cost control, S Group addresses the difficult situation by developing new operating models. We also hope that the Finnish government will refrain from taking action that decrease consumers' purchasing power and the trade sector's opportunities of providing jobs."

The co-op, which has stores in Finland, the Baltic states and Russia, booked a 3.8% increase in grocery revenues for 2013 to EUR6.96bn.

Sales from S Group's supermarkets, which also includes sales of other consumer goods, were up 3.5% at EUR7.81bn.

S Group said it opened 21 more supermarkets in 2013, taking the number of those outlets to 938.

The company also runs service stations and department stores, and has interests in travel hospitality, the automotive trade and agricultural trade.