* Q1 sales 11.295 bln euros, up 6.6 pct like-for-like
* French hypermarket sales up 0.1 pct in Q1 vs 2 pct decline
* CFO sees no urgency for CDiscount IPO
(Adds CFO comments, details, background)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, April 14 Retailer Casino said
sales growth slowed in the first quarter, held back by top
market Brazil, where it is seeking to lure shoppers from rivals
Carrefour and Wal-Mart with lower prices.
Casino said on Monday that it saw a further improvement at
its French hypermarkets, with sales returning to growth at its
Geant stores as it continued to benefit from previous price
But sales at its LeaderPrice discount stores fell 9 percent.
These are still in the early stages of resetting prices, which
Casino expects to bear fruit in the second half of the year.
"The bulk of the price repositioning at Geant has now
happened...we are confident that in the second quarter the
improvement in Geant sales will be more evident," Finance
Director Antoine Giscard d'Estaing told analysts.
He also said that Casino's online discounter, CDiscount, had
the capacity to grow by itself and that there was "no urgency"
for an initial public offering of the unit.
Casino, which makes 60 percent of its sales in emerging
markets and controls Brazil's top retailer, Grupo Pao de Acucar
, said first-quarter group sales reached 11.295
billion euros ($15.6 billion), slightly above the 11.26 billion
euro forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Stripping out acquisitions, currency effects and excluding
petrol prices, this was a like-for-like rise of 6.6 percent and
a slowdown from 8.5 percent growth in the fourth quarter of
2013, Casino said on Monday.
Casino has been expanding for some years in the fast-growing
emerging markets of Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia, away
from weaker growth in Europe, although Asia has slowed recently.
In Brazil, like-for-like sales growth excluding petrol and
calendar effects, was 8.7 percent, down from 14.2 percent in the
Giscard d'Estaing said that in a context of high inflation
in Brazil, Casino wanted to be perceived as "the most attractive
banner" and that all its store formats - hypermarkets,
supermarkets, and cash and carry - aimed to be "very aggressive
against direct competitors".
Retailers across Europe have been struggling as shoppers'
disposable income is squeezed by subdued wage growth and
austerity measures. Most have responded with price cuts.
Last week larger rival Carrefour posted slower
growth at its French hypermarkets, citing a price war among
retailers and food deflation on certain products such as dry
In the last quarter of 2012, Casino funded permanent price
cuts on basic products by reducing promotions, a move that
initially cost it some customers at its Geant hypermarkets.
But there have been signs in recent months that these price
cuts are finally helping Casino's French hypermarket sales.
Same-store sales excluding petrol and calendar effects at
the Geant hypermarkets rose 0.1 percent, against a 2 percent
decline in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Casino shares closed 0.15 percent higher on Monday at 86.78
euros. The stock has gained 3.44 percent so far this year,
outperforming Carrefour's 1.48 percent decline.
($1 = 0.7238 Euros)
(Editing by James Regan)