French supermarket retailer Carrefour has reported a 2002 sales decline much in line with expectations.

The retailer said its turnover for the full year, including value added tax, dropped 1.6% to €76.78bn (US$80.71bn). However, on a constant currency basis sales increased 4.5%, helped by the opening of new stores. Devaluations in Brazilian and Argentinean currencies and weaker Asian currencies pushed sales growth down by 6.1%.

Carrefour said earnings per share growth for 2002 was likely to be at the upper end of its 10-15% estimate, while its earnings before interest and tax margin would be closer to 4.4% than 4.3% of sales.

In the fourth quarter of 2002, Carrefour’s turnover dropped 1.7%, a rise of 6.3% on a constant currency basis, to €20bn.

Sales in Carrefour’s main market, France, which accounts for 51% of group turnover, increased 2.8% to €10.71bn in the quarter.

In the Americas, which accounts for 8.3% of the group’s sales, turnover fell 44% to €1.46bn. On a constant currency basis, however, turnover in the Americas rose 17%, reported Reuters.