Big C Supercenter, Thailand’s second-largest supermarket chain, has reported a 4.5% rise in net profit for the first quarter of 2003, below analysts’ forecasts.

Big C posted first-quarter net profit of 256m baht (US$6.1m), compared to 245m baht in the year-ago period. Fierce competition meant that Big C’s net profit came in well below analysts’ forecasts of around 318m baht.

Big C, which is 67% owned by French retailer Casino, faces competition from Thailand’s Siam Makro, the UK’s Tesco, and France’s Carrefour.