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By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Carrefour’s sales growth slowed in the fourth quarter, as the Paris attacks in November and mild winter weather weighed on its core business, the French retailer said on Friday.
Carrefour’s Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon told journalists that the Paris attacks had weighed on its French sales in the quarter, echoing French rival Casino which on Thursday also identified an impact..
Despite the quarterly slowdown, the world No. 2 retailer achieved its fourth straight year of rising sales for 2015 as a whole, as a recovery plan started by Chief Executive Georges Plassat in 2012 bears fruit.
In Brazil, the group’s second-largest market after France, business was resilient in the quarter, despite a slower economy.
Trading conditions remained difficult in China, amid slowing consumption, the company said in a statement.
Carrefour said its 2015 recurring operating income would be in line with expectations of 2.45 billion euros.
Europe’s largest retailer said fourth-quarter sales were 22.43 billion euros ($24.41 billion), in line with the average of analyst estimates of 22.4 billion.
Stripping out fuel, currency and calendar effects, revenue grew 2.4 percent year-on-year, a slowdown from 4.2 percent growth in the third quarter.
Carrefour, which makes 73 percent of its sales in Europe, has suffered from a reliance on the hypermarket format it pioneered, as customers shift to local and online shopping.
The company is making price and cost cuts and expanding into smaller convenience stores, while also revamping its hypermarkets.
Carrefour’s quarterly performance was ahead of the 0.3 percent like-for-like sales decline reported by Casino.
Closely watched same-store sales at Carrefour’s French hypermarkets eased 0.7 percent after a 0.7 percent increase in the third quarter. Non-food sales were impacted by particularly mild temperatures notably in December.
In Brazil, an emerging market Carrefour has earmarked for expansion, same-store sales rose 8.5 percent in the quarter, against 7.4 percent in the third quarter.
Sales in China were hit by weak consumption and were down 15.7 percent. Carrefour is pursuing a plan there to expand in e-commerce and convenience stores and open logistics centres to cut costs.
$1 = 0.9188 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Geert De Clercq and Alexander Smith