French retail giant Casino has announced a rise in operating income to €1.12bn (US$1.5bn) in 2004, compared with €1.07bn in 2003.

The group’s total business volume was €36.34bn, compared with €36.1bn in 2003. “In France, despite flat consumer spending and whilst improving its price positioning, the group increased its sales by 1.7%” the company said. “International markets delivered organic sales growth of 12.5%, confirming their role as growth drivers. Most notably, the US, Poland and Thailand saw sustained sales growth (+13%, +6.7% and +12% respectively) and there was a clear sales recovery in Latin America (+29.2% at constant exchange rates).

The rise in operating income was due to firm margins in France and significantly higher operating income in international markets