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    Carrefour Maintains Forecast as Profits Rise 6%

    Carrefour, Europe's largest retail group, on Thursday announced an almost 6 percent rise in interim profits and reiterated forecasts for the remainder of the year.

    Carrefour, Europe's largest retail group, on Thursday announced an almost 6 percent rise in interim profits and reiterated forecasts for the remainder of the year.

    Net profit for the first half, including amortisation but before exceptionals, was E320 million ($290.6 million) compared with E302 million previously. Sales were 9 percent higher at E33.5 billion.

    The group said it expected full-year sales to rise by 8 percent, with net profit up by about 15 percent. European and Asian business should be strong, the group said, but it warned of difficult times ahead in Latin America.

    The first-half figures were affected by exceptional items related to the integration of Promodes, the French supermarket group. Its integration has proved more costly and difficult than expected. Meanwhile, a new advertising campaign launched in May had only a small impact on first half sales.

    Carrefour has suffered since acquiring Promodes in August 1999, the largest takeover in retail history.

    In April, it announced the resignation of Herve Defforey, finance director and son of one of the group's founders - a move analysts believed was symptomatic of its failure to live up to promises made at the time of the merger. Carrefour was forced to cut profit forecasts and has replaced four of the nine board members of its French hypermarkets division, which accounts for almost one-third of revenues.

    Some analysts have said they did not expect a significant improvement in the finances within the next six to 12 months.

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