Groupe Casino has reported improved sales momentum in July, despite seeing its city stores impacted by both coronavirus curfew measures and a lack of tourists in the second quarter.
The group, which has been boosting its profitability through purchasing deals and cost cuts, saw a further slowdown in revenue growth in the April to June period, but said it hoped to return to positive territory by year-end.
"We've seen a strong improvement since July in all our (supermarket) brands," financial chief David Lubek told reporters. He added that easing COVID-19 restrictions and the opening of 400 new stores in the second half of 2021, leading to a total of 750 extra shops this year, would help.
Spending Boost During 2020
Casino operates its own stores as well Monoprix and Franprix formats, and its model of local shops in city centres helped fuel spending in 2020 at the height of coronavirus lockdowns when people stayed at home. It recently announced a rethink of its Monop' city centre concept.
It reported a 8.4% fall in sales on a same-store basis year-on-year in its core French markets for the second quarter.
Casino said it would further lift margins in the second half of the year, and it posted a 3% increase in the group's EBITDA to €1.1 billion in the first six months of 2021.
Casino, which has a stake in Brazilian food retailer GPA , has been selling assets to shrink its debts and that of parent group Rallye. It agreed to shed web and mobile payment solutions provider FLOA to BNP Paribas for nearly 260 million euros earlier this week.
It has also flagged a potential listing for its GreenYellow energy arm, while its Cnova NV unit, which controls the CDiscount e-commerce business that competes with marketplace-style online platforms like Amazon, is also aiming to sell new shares this year.