Japanese retailer Seiyu, an affiliate of US retail titan Wal-Mart, has said it expects to see a substantially improved performance in 2004, helped by more product offerings from Wal-Mart and cost cuts.

"A line-up of high-margin, cost-competitive products developed by Wal-Mart has started to come together... We aim to report a net profit next business year," president Masao Kiuchi told Reuters in an interview. 

Kiuchi said same-store sales in December so far are slightly higher than for the same period last year, despite unseasonably warm weather.

He also said Seiyu is on track to achieve its pre-tax profit target of ¥1bn (US$9.3m) for the year to 31 December.