* Eyes 2013 sales growth of 4.9 pct, market share 10.3 pct
* Company 'optimistic' about 2013 food retail sales
* January strong for food retail, non-food tougher
PARIS, Jan 31 France's fourth-largest food
retailer Systeme U said on Thursday it would target a further
increase to its domestic market share this year, hoping to tap
into a steady retail sales market via low prices, despite a
challenging economic climate.
Demand for food products at the group's stores stayed robust
in January and helped overall sales to rise 5 percent in an
encouraging sign for the company's full-year performance, chief
executive Serge Papin told a news conference.
Non-food items such as electronics are tougher, but
clothing is doing well, Papin said, echoing similar comments by
rival Carrefour earlier this month.
"I am quite confident for 2013," he added.
The company is aiming to increase market share to 10.3
percent from the 10 percent recorded last year, which compares
with Carrefour's 20.6 percent and 18.6 percent and 14 percent
respectively for Leclerc and Intermarche, its unlisted rivals.
Food sales in France particular are being boosted as
cash-strapped French consumers cut down on restaurant outings to
stay home and cook. That in turn is supporting broader retail
"Our focus is permanently low prices," Papin said, adding
the group was cutting down on promotions in order to fund price
Systeme U is predicting growth of 4.9 percent this year to
around 19 billion euros. It posted an 11 percent increase in
2012 revenue to 17.84 billion euros, which includes fuel sales.
2012 sales were also lifted by the acquisition of 46 Coop
Excluding fuel and the effect of store disposals and
additions, Systeme U sales grew 3.5 percent in 2012,
outperforming declines of 1.5 percent for Carrefour and 0.8
percent for Casino. Leclerc sales grew 7 percent.
Systeme U has currently 1,504 stores, including 841 Hyper U
or Super U discount stores and 663 convenience neighborhood
stores known as Marche U, U Express and Utile.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sophie Walker)