January 17, 2019 / 7:16 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Germany's Metro posts upbeat Christmas sales, caps decline in Russia

* Q1 sales down 0.6 pct to 8 bln euros, up 2.3 pct like-for-like

* Russia sales down like-for-like 2.4 pct

* Wholesaler confirms 2018/19 outlook

* Sales fall again at Real hypermarkets that are up for sale (Adds details, background)

BERLIN, Jan 17 (Reuters) - German wholesaler Metro said on Thursday first-quarter results, which covers the Christmas period, saw the fastest like-for-like sales in 18 months, and stated that it curbed the decline in its struggling Russian business.

First-quarter sales in the 2018/19 fiscal year dropped 0.6 percent to 8 billion euros ($9.11 billion), but rose 2.3 percent on a like-for-like basis after stripping out store closures and currency fluctuations, the wholesaler said.

In Russia, where it has been restructuring its business since poor performance forced it to issue a profit warning in April, like-for-like sales fell 2.4 percent, an improvement on the 8.9 percent decline a year ago.

Metro said it had seen a monthly improvement in Russia since it introduced bulk-buying discounts to attract more independent traders and restaurant owners, and expanded its Fasol franchise convenience stores.

The company confirmed its outlook for the full 2018/19 fiscal year, which foresees sales up 1 percent-3 percent, but operating earnings are set to fall by about 2 percent-6 percent.

Once a sprawling retail conglomerate, Metro has been restructuring in recent years to focus on its core cash-and-carry business, selling Kaufhof department stores and then splitting from consumer electronics group Ceconomy .

It is also trying to sell its loss-making Real hypermarkets chain, which it has booked as a discontinued chain.

Sales in the Real hypermarkets slipped 1.5 percent in the first quarter as two stores closed temporarily, while like-for-like sales dipped 0.5 percent.

$1 = 0.8781 euros Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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