Retailer Casino eyes more profit growth in three year strategy plan

PARIS, March 14 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino , which is battling investor concerns over its high debts, raised its targets regarding asset disposals and vowed to boost profits in its core French market under a three-year strategy plan.

The plan puts the spotlight on levers for profit growth ranging from energy services, the monetisation of client data, savings from purchasing deals, a greater focus on E-commerce and organic food, and convenience stores.

Casino’s plan targets 10 percent growth per year in trading profit for the French retail business between 2019 and 2021, and the generation of 500 million euros ($566 million) in free cash flow per year.

Casino, which controls Brazil’s top retailer Grupo Pao de Acucar, set out those targets after it reported 2018 group operating profit of 1.209 billion euros, a rise of 18 percent on an organic basis, excluding tax credits, which beat the company’s own guidance for 10 percent growth.

French retail operations alone achieved operating profit of 518 million euros, an organic increase of 15.7 percent.

Casino said it was raising its goal for the disposal of non-strategic assets to at least 2.5 billion euros, to be achieved by the first quarter of 2020.

The company said it was doing this as it had completed a 1.5 billion euros asset disposal plan in January, ahead of schedule, and in light of indicative offers received for other assets.

$1 = 0.8836 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta