Metro Group and Auchan have refused to be drawn on reports the two retailers are in talks over the German retail giant’s Real hypermarkets in central and eastern Europe.

Reports in Romania have claimed Metro and Auchan have held discussions over the sale of Real’s stores in the region.

There has been ongoing speculation over the future of Real. Last summer, Metro told just-food it was in talks with “potential interested parties” over the future of the Real chain.

Speaking to just-food this morning (18 May), Metro declined to comment on the fresh reports but admitted there were “strategic options” available for the business.

“We do not comment on any speculations on the development of our portfolio,” a spokesperson said. 

However, he added: “Our view on Real is unchanged: due to the successful repositioning and the stable performance we have different strategic options. We are amenable concerning all theoretical scenarios: a complete or partly sale as well as that Real stays within the group on long-term. Real has a business potential which can reach the targeted return on sales of two to three percent. Thus, it is our priority to further develop the business and to exploit its potential.”

A spokesperson for Auchan also said the French retailer would not comment on what he called “rumours”.

In 2011, sales from Real fell 2.3% to EUR11.2bn (US$14.21bn). Like-for-like sales dipped 0.8%. However, EBIT before special items from the chain increased 1.5% to EUR134m.

In the first quarter of 2012, sales from the hypermarket chain increased 2.3% on the back of higher sales in Germany. Sales from Real’s Eastern European stores fell 1.8% to EUR700m but, when measured in local currency, sales increased 2.6%. The chain recorded an operating loss of EUR23m for the first three months of the year, compared to EUR21m a year earlier.

The Real chain comprises 315 hypermarkets in Germany and 110 stores in Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.