French retailer Carrefour has reported a rise in 2004 sales, helped by continued expansion and higher customer numbers.

The company reported a 3.2% rise in full-year sales to €81.4bn (US$107.6bn), a rise of 4.2% excluding currency rates. Like-for-like sales edged up 0.8%.

Sales in France rose 0.2% to €40.02bn, although like-for-like sales declined 1.0%. In Europe, excluding France, Carrefour’s sales rose 6.1% to €30.15bn, helped by a like-for-like sales increase of 2.6%. Carrefour’s sales in Latin America increased 4.2% to €5.67bn, an increase of 9.8% excluding currency effects. Like-for-like sales in Latin America rose 5.8% in 2004. In Asia, Carrefour’s sales rose 10.2% to €5.55bn, while like-for-like sales edged up 0.8%. Excluding currency effects, Carrefour’s sales in Asia rose 19.1%.

In France, the company said it had continued to strengthen its pricing position, with almost all of its hypermarkets now either number one or number two on price in their local catchment area.

“As expected, our decision to accelerate our investments in price in Q4 in order to achieve price leadership as quickly as possible meant that deflationary pressures increased and the value of the average basket remained negative. However, the trend in customer transactions improved significantly, trending close to flat over the quarter versus -2.6% over the first nine months,” Carrefour said.

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Outside France, the company said sales growth remained robust despite further aggressive investment in price and challenging comparisons.

“The success of our commercial strategy, based on continual and substantial price roll backs, can again be seen across all our zones, in particular in the performance of Spanish hypermarkets, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia and hard discount,” the retailer said.

Carrefour also said it had achieved its objective of opening at least one million square metres of new space in 2004. The company opened 934 new stores, including 44 hypermarkets, 107 supermarkets, 554 hard discount stores and 225 convenience stores, bringing its total number of stores to 11,080.