French retailer Groupe Casino has achieved a 2019 group operating profit of €1.292 billion, down 3.1% at constant exchange rates.
The group said on Thursday it was suspending its financial guidance for 2020 and beyond due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It said it would aim to keep costs and capital expenditure under control and push on with its asset disposal plan to reduce debt.
"We cannot reiterate our financial guidance in an economic climate that is so uncertain. But we stay mobilised regarding all our objectives such as cost cuts, inventories, or capex," finance director David Lubek said on a call.
Excluding tax credits in Brazil, where it controls top retailer Grupo Pao de Aucucar, its 2019 consolidated trading profit was up 5.5% at constant exchange rates.
Overall, organic net sales at the business were up 4.2% for the year at constant exchange rates, to €34.65 billion.
In France, the business said that gross sales under banner were up 1.9% on a same store basis, as the group seeks to accelerate its strategic repositioning to focus on high-growth formats.
In Latin America, the standout performer was the group's Assaí banner, which saw sales up 22% and margin up 20 bps.
Casino last week agreed to sell 567 discount Leader Price stores in France, plus three warehouses, to German rival Aldi in a deal with an enterprise value of €735 million.
It sad that the sale of the business represents a 'key milestone in the Group’s strategy of repositioning its operations to focus on buoyant formats'.
News by Reuters, additional reporting by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.