* Posts first-half net profit down 2.3 pct
* Sales edged higher thanks to Balkan stores
* Reiterates target for 70 mln euro full-year profit
ATHENS, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Jumbo, Greece’s largest toy retailer, posted a 2.3 percent fall in net for the six months to December 31, with robust sales in the Balkans partly offsetting the impact of the deep recession at home.
The company, which operates 62 stores in Greece, Cyprus and Bulgaria, said on Tuesday that net profit fell to 56.5 million euros ($75.4 million) from 57.8 million in the corresponding period a year earlier.
Last month Jumbo said that six-month sales rose slightly to 295.4 million euros, helped by a strong performance in Bulgaria and franchise stores in Macedonia and Albania.
Greek retail sales continued to slump at a near-record pace in November, highlighting the pain that the government’s three-year austerity drive has inflicted on household consumption. Athens has been increasing taxes and cutting wages and pensions in return for funds from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.
Jumbo’s response has been an aggressive expansion plan at home and abroad. In the six months to December, it opened four stores in Greece and Bulgaria, with plans for at least six more by June 2014, including its first outlet in Romania.
The company reiterated its target of net profit of 70 million euros in the 12 months to June 30 this year, down 28 percent year on year.
It said that adverse conditions in Greece, where the economy is in its sixth year of recession, and the high cost to import goods from Asia are expected to reduce its gross profit margin.
Full-year sales are forecast to rise by up to 1 percent, from 494.3 million euros in the 12 months to June 30, 2012. ($1 = 0.7490 euros) (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by David Goodman)