Metro said that when the effect of the euro’s strength against other currencies was stripped out, sales would have gained 0.2 percent. Analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had forecast slightly higher sales of €65.9 billion.
In its main market of Germany, the drop in sales was limited to 0.6 percent
at €20.9 billion despite the country’s worst post-war recession, provisional figures showed.
In Eastern Europe, the fall of local currencies against the euro led to a 12.8 percent drop in sales to €15.8 billion. Without the foreign exchange effect, they would have gained 1.4 percent, Metro said.
The group, made it through “a year that was generally satisfactory,” boss Eckhard Cordes was quoted by a statement as saying. “We developed our position in many markets during this unprecedented crisis,” he stressed.
The group has launched a cost-reduction programme aimed at saving €1.5 billion by 2012, and increased its investment budget to 1.9 billion from 1.6 billion previously. Metro plans to open many new stores this year, mainly in eastern Europe and Asia, and is aiming in particular to get a foothold in China.