Systeme U, France's fourth-largest retailer, has reported an increase in annual sales, driven, it said, by its ability to attract new customers.

The retail co-op said sales rose 3.5% in the calendar year, rising to EUR18.45bn (US$24.96bn). Including fuel, sales reached EUR23.65bn the group added.

During the period the company was able to grow its market share to 10.3%, up 0.4 percentage points.

The company said the performance reflected its "constant acquisition of new customers". According to Systeme U, 37.4% of French households shopped at its stores in 2013 and the group attracted 472,000 new customers.

The increase was partly driven by an increase in selling space. In the year to the end of December, its selling space grew by 3.8%. As of 31 December, the group had 1,559 points of sale in France.