French retailer Groupe Casino has hailed a “resilient” first-half performance, despite a decline in net sales, operating profit and EBITDA.

Net sales fell 2.6% to EUR13.45bn (US$x), in spite of organic growth of 1.3%.

Operating profit dropped 9.1% to EUR488m as the company’s trading margin fell 26 basis points. EBITDA slid 5% to EUR819m.

Nevertheless, Casino emphasised that attributable net profit edged up 0.8% to EUR231m, boosted by the resilience of  its convenience formats in France, sustained growth in international markets and the implementation of its cost-cutting plan.

“These results demonstrate the robustness of our business model and the effectiveness of the action plans deployed by Casino’s teams, both on the marketing and financial sides,” Jean-Charles Naouri, Casino’s chairman and CEO, said.

“In France, the group’s positioning, heavily weighted towards the convenience and discount formats, represents a solid earnings base, while in international markets, our leadership positions in Latin America and Southeast Asia constitute major growth drivers.”

Naouri said that Casino was confident of meeting its targets and is accelerating its strategic plans.

The group said that it will maintain margins with improved purchasing conditions and ongoing cost-cutting actions. The company expects to achieve more than EUR300m in savings by 2010, of which EUR150m is expected to be reached by the end of this year. 

Casino said that it now expects to have implemented its EUR1bn asset disposal programme by the end of next year.

The company also hopes to increase its appeal to shoppers by developing its own-label offering and lowering prices.

In its home market, the retailer said it is focused on expanding its convenience and discount formats as well as e-business.