* Q3 group sales 21.78 bln euros vs Rtrs poll 21.71 bln
* French Q3 like-for-like sales up 1.2 pct vs 0.9 pct Q2
* CFO says 2016 EBIT consensus of 2.45 bln euros
(Recasts with CFO comments to analysts, shares, analysts)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Oct 19 Strong sales in Brazil and an
improving performance in its biggest market, France, lifted
third-quarter sales at the world's second-biggest retailer
Carrefour, as its turnaround strategy gained traction.
In China, where Carrefour is restructuring its operations,
slowing consumer spending remained a challenge, but the rate of
decline in sales slowed to 7.8 percent like-for-like from 9.3
percent in the second quarter.
"This was a good third quarter. It confirms our good start
to the year and the pursuit of the momentum initiated in 2012,"
its finance chief Pierre-Jean Sivignon told a conference call.
Market estimates for full-year 2016 earnings before interest
and tax (EBIT) of around 2.45 billion euros ($2.69 billion) were
"achievable", he added.
Carrefour, which makes 73 percent of its sales in Europe, is
pursuing a global revival launched by Chief Executive Georges
Plassat in 2012 by focusing on price and cost cuts, and
expansion into smaller convenience stores, while also renovating
its chain of hypermarkets.
Europe's largest retailer has confirmed plans to invest
2.5-2.6 billion euros in renovating and expanding stores this
year and expects a further 2.4 billion euros of capital spending
next year, Sivignon said.
Carrefour said third-quarter sales were 21.78 billion euros
($23.91 billion), above the median analyst estimate of 21.71
billion in a Thomson Reuters poll.
Stripping out fuel and calendar effects, like-for-like
revenue grew 3.2 percent year-on-year, an acceleration from the
2.7 percent growth achieved in the second quarter.
At 0856 GMT, Carrefour shares were up 1.66 percent at 23.86
euros, outperforming the European retail sector, which
gained 0.11 percent.
"The third quarter confirmed an improving recovery
trajectory. French trading momentum inflected (turned up)
sharply ... and Brazil continues to impress. Even Chinese
pressures were more contained than expected," Jefferies analysts
said in a note.
MORE AGGRESSIVE IN FRANCE
In France, like-for-like sales rose 1.2 percent, beating
consensus expectations of 0.6 percent growth, and accelerating
from a 0.9 percent decline in the second quarter, driven by
strong sales at French supermarkets and convenience stores.
Closely watched same-store sales at French hypermarkets fell
one percent in the quarter, a sharp improvement from a 3.1
percent fall in the second quarter, helped by promotions in
"We have a new management team in place in France since June
who is rolling out a more aggressive strategy to boost store
traffic," Sivignon said
The strategy focused on boosting organic and fresh food
offerings, more price cuts and promotions and providing more
activities to draw customers to stores.
Carrefour's performance in France contrasted with that of
smaller rival Casino which reported a sales slowdown
in the quarter.
Both retailers faced weak consumer demand, low food
inflation and poor weather in France as well as intense price
competition during the quarter.
In China, which represents about 5 percent of group sales,
Carrefour has already set out plans to expand in e-commerce and
convenience stores. "We see encouraging signs on food sales in
China," Sivignon said.
In Brazil, Carrefour's second-largest market, like-for-like
sales rose 12.4 percent.
Carrefour has weathered a recession in Brazil because it
sells mostly food there and is thus less vulnerable to falling
consumer spending. Carrefour is also benefitting from the
renovation of some of its hypermarkets in Brazil and from the
robust performance of its Atacadao cash and carry stores.
($1 = 0.9094 euros)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Louise Heavens and