UPDATE 2-Carrefour has best quarter in five years as Italy rebounds
* Q2 sales 20.517 bln euros vs Rtrs poll 20.384 bln
* Italy back to sales growth, Brazil accelerates
* Consensus for 2014 EBIT "reasonable"- CFO
* Shares outperform European retail sector (Adds CFO call with analysts, share reaction)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, July 17 (Reuters) - Carrefour, the world's second-biggest retailer, posted its best three-month sales in five years thanks to signs of recovery in austerity-hit southern Europe, where even Italy returned to growth thanks to World Cup promotions.
Europe's largest retailer said all the continent was now growing. Sales rose in Spain for the third consecutive quarter, while revenue at French hypermarkets grew for a fifth quarter.
Carrefour is battling to reverse years of underperformance in Europe, where it makes 73 percent of its sales. Its problems are partly due to a reliance on the hypermarket format it pioneered, now that customers favour more local and online shopping.
In response, Chief Executive Georges Plassat has lowered costs, revamped stores, cut prices, simplified product offerings and given more autonomy to store managers, starting in France. Continuación...