Colruyt warns of tough year ahead after profit fall

BRUSSELS, June 23 Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:24pm EDT

BRUSSELS, June 23 (Reuters) - Belgian discount retailer Colruyt expects consumer confidence to stay weak and fierce competition to continue, after profits in its 2013/2014 financial year fell slightly.

The group said its market share remained stable at 25.9 percent compared with last year, as an increase in the first part of the year was undone by a fall in the second part.

Net profit in the group's financial year to March 31 fell 1.1 percent to 349.8 million euros ($475.5 million), broadly in line with the 352 million expected in a Reuters poll of nine analysts.

"The consumer's spending pattern increasingly shifted, and continues to shift, towards a cheaper product mix," Colruyt said in a statement.

The group had in September said it expected net profit to be unchanged from the previous year.

The Belgian supermarket landscape has been fiercely competitive over recent quarters, also due to Dutch rival Ahold's Albert Heijn entering the market and German hard discounters Aldi and Lidl gaining ground.

Earlier this month, Delhaize said it would cut up to 2,500 jobs in the country to restore margins hit by competition. ($1 = 0.7357 Euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by David Holmes)