Saint Etienne-based retailing giant Casino revealed yesterday [Thursday] that gains in market share across all of its retail formats in its core French market have enabled it to post a 19% increase in net profit for its H1, up to €177.5m (US$176.1m) from €149.4m year on year.

Operating profit in the same comparable periods grew 13% to €401.5m. Casino's French stores saw a 15% increase at operating level, and its 50%-owned supermarket subsidiary Monoprix generated a 40% increase in operating profit. The company revealed plans to open 30 new stores under the Leader Price banner and three new hypermarkets in the country.

Elsewhere in Europe, Casino said that its operations in Poland "suffered from competitive pressure" and that it has signed a deal to sell its 11 Polish shopping malls to GE Capital real Estate and Heitman Central Europe Property Partners for €163m.

The group recently closed a deal to buy 38.6% of beleaguered Dutch retailer Laurus, with an option to take majority control in a few years.

And further a field, Casino's Latin American operations were described as satisfactory, "while business in the US was affected by the weaker economy".

Looking at the full fiscal year, Casino said: "Growth in sale and income should be on a par with the first half."

Rumours of accounting problems

Meanwhile, the group formally denied mystery rumours of accounting problems which it believes have caused its share price to fall. The retailer said in a statement that it has asked the French stock market watchdog, the Commission des Opérations de la Bourse, to investigate "anomalies" in trading in the company's shares and ascertain their origin.