French retailer Casino Guichard-Perrachon reported net profits of EUR258m (US$328.2m) for the first half of 2007, a 27.6% improvement on the year-ago period.

In France, the group reported strong sales performance and reaped the initial benefits of the cross-banner projects now underway, namely the introduction of private-label ranges, a stronger focus on fresh produce, enhanced loyalty programmes and the 'Operational Excellence' supply chain programme. Both hypermarkets and supermarkets gained market share, with overall sales growth of 3.6% reflecting accelerating organic growth during the half under review.

EBITDA in the domestic market amounted to EUR531m, versus EUR552m in the first half of 2005. Excluding the impact of non-recurring costs, EBITDA was down just 1.7% for the period, the company said.

Results from international markets rose strongly during the half, led by the growing contributions of Latin America and Asia to overall profits, particularly following the consolidation of CBD in Brazil.

Looking ahead, Casino confirmed its full year guidance for organic sales growth in excess of last year's 2.3% increase, adding that operating income was also expected to rise.

Casino also announced that it had sold a 50% stake in its Taiwanese operation Far Eastern Giant, reducing debt by EUR50m and raising overall proceeds from disposals to date to more than EUR1.5bn. It further confirmed that at least EUR2bn worth of assets should be disposed of by the end of next year as part of its debt reduction campaign.