UPDATE 1-Russian retailer X5 cuts sales growth forecast for 2013
* Sees 2013 sales growth at around 8 pct vs previous forecast of 11 pct
* This year's growth would be in line with 2012
* Q3 sales up 6.6 pct after 7.8 pct rise in Q2
* Like-for-like sales continue to fall
* Shares fall 3.7 pct
MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Struggling Russian retailer X5 Retail Group has reduced its forecast for 2013 sales after its growth slowed further in the third quarter as more customers fled to competitor's stores.
X5 lost its market lead to Magnit earlier this year to become the number two food retailer by sales, having struggled with operational problems since changing its strategy in 2011 to focus on organic expansion, rather than acquisitions.
In a presentation on Friday, the company predicted growth of around 8 percent for this year, in line with last year but down from its previous forecast of 11 percent.
The forecast revision came as X5, part of billionaire Mikhail Fridman's Alfa Group, reported a slowdown in third-quarter revenue growth to 6.6 percent after a 7.8 percent increase in the previous quarter.
It expects sales growth of around 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter - traditionally the strongest quarter for retailers due to increased New Year spending - according to the presentation.
While consumption in Russia remained healthy, X5 said the results were affected by an increase in regional competition, an decrease in promotional activities, aging stores in core regions and lower service levels as well as lower beer and summer beverages sales due to cold weather in August and September.
Its like-for-like sales fell 1.7 percent in the three months to end-September after a 0.4 percent decline in the previous quarter.
"The weak trading data further supports our view that an operational turnaround in X5 is not on the cards in the short term," said Maria Kolbina, an analyst at VTB Capital.
"We believe that decelerating revenue growth, as well as intensifying competition, demands modest expectations of the company's Q3 (financial results)," she added.
Shares in X5 were trading 3.7 percent lower in London by 1447 GMT, underperforming Magnit which fell 2 percent.
Smaller rival O'Key, which on Friday reported a 20 percent rise in third-quarter sales, was down 0.9 percent.
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