German retail giant Metro has posted preliminary sales results for 2003, indicating a 4% rise in total sales.

Metro said 2003 sales were €53.6bn (US$68.4bn), a rise of 4.0% compared to the previous year, or 5.7% excluding currency effects, reported Dow Jones International News.

Fourth-quarter sales rose 3.6%, or 5.4% excluding currency effects.

"With sales up 5.7% we have accomplished our growth target for 2003," Metro CEO Hans-Joachim Koerber was quoted by Dow Jones as saying.

"In total we are satisfied with the operational development in the fourth quarter. Our international business developed continuously strongly. As expected, the German Christmas business did not provide momentum."

The company's German operations achieved a 1.3% rise in fourth-quarter sales, while sales outside Germany rose 10.4% at constant currencies.

Koerber backed Metro's 2003 earnings-per-share growth target of 6-10%.