Retailer Metro Group has reported sales of €27.24bn (US$33.3bn) for the first half of 2005, compared with €26.221bn for the same period last year, with Eastern Europe leading the growth.

Earnings before tax were €267m, compared with €243m the year before

Metro's international business boosted its sales by 9.5%, to €13.76bn. The strongest growth was reported from Eastern Europe where sales surged 22.3%. In Germany, by contrast, the discussion about parliamentary elections and the potential increasing of VAT once again fuelled consumer confusion. This uncertainty depressed business activity in an already difficult market environment.

"The results of Metro Group in the first half year demonstrate one thing above all: we hold the right course with our growth drivers," said CEO Dr Hans-Joachim Körber. "International business, mainly in Eastern Europe, has again taken an extremely gratifying course. Our two most important sales divisions Metro Cash & Carry as well as Media Markt and Saturn, accounting for more than 70% of the group's sales, are looking back on successful six months. This also holds true for Praktiker, having extended further their market shares in a sector environment characterized by extraordinarily intense competition. On the other hand, we are not satisfied with the course of business at Real."

In the second quarter the sales of the METRO Group climbed 3.6% to €13.83bn. Outside Germany the increase amounted to 9.9%. "For the first time distinctly more than half of our total sales came in from abroad, at a share of 52%. Moreover, the international business made an above average contribution to the result. Today, the Metro Group is reaping the benefits from the consistent implementation of our internationalization strategy which we launched years ago," said Dr. Körber.

As at the end of June 2005, the METRO Group was represented at 2,445 locations worldwide. In the second quarter, 18 locations were newly opened, 14 of them by the sales divisions Metro Cash & Carry as well as Media Markt and Saturn.