PARIS, July 30 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino said on Thursday that first-half operating profit fell 36.2 percent year-on-year, reflecting losses in France due to price cuts and a tougher economic climate in its top market of Brazil.
The group said that its priority was to return to growth and improve profitability in France in the second half of the year.
Casino, which makes 60 percent of sales in emerging markets and controls Brazil's top retailer, Grupo Pao de Acucar , said first-half operating profit reached 521 million euros ($572 million) against analysts' average expectation of 527 million.
In France, Casino suffered an operating loss of 53 million euros, weighed down by price cuts mainly at its Geant Casino hypermarkets and Leader Price discount stores.
These price cuts have, however, started to bear fruit, and Casino reported a marked improvement at its French hypermarket stores in the second quarter.
Earlier this month Casino finance head Antoine Giscard d'Estaing said the market consensus for 2015 group earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of 2.13 billion euros was realistic. This would compare with 2.23 billion euros in 2014. ($1 = 0.9111 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)