Shares in German retail giant Metro Group fell by more than 3% today (5 May) after the company revealed it had swung to a loss during the first quarter of the year.

The retailer booked a net loss of EUR77m (US$102.9m) for the first three months of 2009, against net income of EUR7m a year earlier.

Underlying sales were up 3.6% at EUR15.2bn, although currency fluctuations and calendar effects meant that, on a reported basis, turnover was down 2.5%.

EBIT before special items stood at EUR84m compared to EUR166m in the first quarter of 2008. Metro CEO Dr Eckhard Cordes said the business had “seen a first quarter without surprises”.

“Against the backdrop of the continued and further intensifying economic crisis the only surprise is that there is no surprise,” Dr Cordes added.

Metro said the first quarter gave the business “little informative value” and said its performance in April had been “strong”.

Sales and earnings in April had “showed a noticeable upward trend”, the company said, with EBIT in April up on the year.

Dr Cordes said the global economic downturn offered opportunities for “ a healthy and financially strong company” like Metro.

“We are determined to seize these opportunities,” Dr Cordes said.

Shares in Metro were down 3.47% on the Frankfurt stock exchange to EUR31.97 at 16:01 CET.