French retail giant Carrefour has posted a smaller-than-expected rise in quarterly revenue, hit by weak sales at its core French hypermarkets.

The company reported revenue of €18.85bn (US$22.9bn) for the January to March first quarter, compared to €18.28bn in the year-ago period. Analysts had expected revenue of €19.03bn, reported Dow Jones International News.

Revenue from French operations slid 1.1% to €9.30bn. Carrefour said the lower French revenue was due to increased competition from discount retailers, as well as cut-price sales promotions. Revenue from the company's French hypermarket operations fell 3.7% to €4.80bn.

Carrefour backed its forecast of 6% revenue growth in 2004 on a constant currency basis, and a double-digit increase in earnings per share.

Carrefour said it now has 10,467 outlets worldwide, compared to 10,378 at the end of 2003.