Metro Group, the world's third-largest retailer, has confirmed its warning in December that sales and profits in 2011 will be below the levels generated in 2010.

In a trading update yesterday (17 January), the German retail giant said sales in 2011 fell 0.8% to EUR66.7bn (US$85.02bn). When measured in local currencies, sales slid 0.2%. Last month, Metro said sales would come in "slightly below" 2010's EUR67.3bn.

Metro, which will report its full financial results for 2011 in March, confirmed its December guidance for EBIT. The retailer said EBIT before special items is expected to be "slightly below" 2010's EUR2.4bn.

"Despite a good finish, the Christmas business was disappointing overall," CEO Olaf Koch said yesterday (17 January).

In the fourth quarter, Metro's sales fell 1.3% to EUR19.7bn. Sales were lower in Germany, western Europe and Eastern Europe but increased within Metro's Asia/Africa division. When measured in local currenices, sales fell 0.2% and the impact of currency fluctation had a particular effect on Metro's Eastern European stores. Fourth-quarter sales in Eastern Europe grew 4.3% when measured in local currencies.

Over 2011 as a whole, Metro's sales in Germany and the wider western Europe fell but were higher in Eastern Europe and from its Asia/Africa division.

Metro, meanwhile, announced it had suspended talks to sell department store chain Galeria Kaufhof.