Groupe Casino has said that it is doubling down on its 'most buoyant formats' – premium, convenience and e-commerce – following full-year results that showed a 5.6% decline in sales in its core French market.
At group level, consolidated net sales for the year totalled €30.5 billion, down 0.8% year-on-year, with Latin America up 2.7% and its CDiscount arm seeing GMV up 8%.
France Operations 'Hit Hard'
The group said that its French operations, particularly in Paris and southeast France, were 'particularly hard hit' by the pandemic, with most of its banners seeing declines as the year drew to a close.
Its Monoprix banner reported a 2.8% decline in same store sales in Q4, while its supermarkets business was down 3.3%, Franprix down 2.0%, convenience down 0.7% and hypermarkets down 4.7%.
However, the group says that it has undergone a 'deep transformation' and is beginning to see a turnaround in some areas, such as convenience, where same store sales in the four weeks to 20 February were up 5.9%.
Casino has opened more than 730 convenience stores since January 2021, and it sees the channel as one of the core formats to driving its recovery, along with high-growth formats and e-commerce, which was up 15% last year (home delivery rose by 48%).
Commenting on its French business, the group said, 'Amid the ongoing normalisation of the health situation, the completion of the transformation plans and the continued expansion of convenience and e-commerce formats will enable the Group to aim for a return to growth in 2022 in profitable and cash-flow generating formats.'
Groupe Casino is also continuing with its asset disposal plan, of which €3.2 billion has been completed to date, although it admitted that this has seen a slowdown during the health crisis.
Some €400 million worth of disposals were completed in 2021, however due to transitory elements linked to the group's transformation, net debt in its France Retail operation actually increased last year, from €3.7 billion to €4.4 billion.
'The Group is now aiming to complete the final €1.3 billion of its €4.5 billion disposal plan by the end of 2023,' it said.