Carrefour, the world’s second-largest retailer, is to withdraw from Russia just four months after opening its first store in the country.

The French retail giant made the surprise announcement after the market closed yesterday (15 October) as it posted a 2.9% drop in third-quarter sales.

The move follows reports that Carrefour’s largest investors – Colony Capital and Bernard Arnault – were placing the company’s management under pressure to sell its operations in emerging markets.

The world’s second-largest retailer said the decision to quit Russia was reached given the “absence of sufficient organic growth prospects” and “acquisition opportunities” that would have allowed the business to attain a “position of leadership” in the market.

Sales for the third quarter totalled EUR24.02bn (US$35.81bn), compared with EUR24.72bn last year.

Although Carrefour insisted it was “on track” to meet its 2009 objectives, the company also suggested that full-year profits would likely fall in the lower-end of its guidance range of EUR2.7-2.8bn.

For the full press release click here, or check back later for just-food’s insight into Carrefour’s third quarter.