Metro Group has increased sales by 7.5% to around EUR60bn (US$77.6bn), or 6.6% pre-acquisitions, during the 2006 financial year.

The company said it has continued international double-digit sales growth during the year, as it jumped by 12.4% to EUR33.5bn, or 12% pre-acquisitions.

In Germany, sales grew by 1.9%, while the group's international sales increased by 12.4%. Metro's international share of sales reached a new record high of 55.9%, it said.

Metro's sales grew by 10.1% in the fourth quarter, reaching EUR18.4bn.

The company said that a better November and very satisfactory Christmas period compensated sluggish sales development in October.

The German retailer said that sales of the acquired Géant hypermarkets in Poland and Wal-Mart Germany were consolidated from 1 November 2006.

"Business development in the fourth quarter was in line with our expectations. This also applies to Germany. Christmas business developed all in all to our full satisfaction," said Dr. Hans-Joachim Körber, CEO of Metro Group.

"Internationally we dynamically expanded our network with 55 openings and took over 19 Géant hypermarkets in the fourth quarter. In fiscal 2006 we generated strong organic growth of 6.6 percent and hold fast to our EPS outlook."

In 2006 the number of stores of Metro's sales divisions increased by 212 stores, of which 109 stores were added by Real, while Metro Cash & Carry opened additional 41 stores and 64 new stores were added to the store network of Media Markt and Saturn.

The retailer's sales divisions operated 2,048 stores in 30 countries at the year end.