HALLE, Belgium, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Belgian discount retailer Colruyt expects 2012/2013 net profit to be unchanged from the previous year, given the difficulty to pass on higher food costs to increasingly price-conscious consumers, the group said on Wednesday.
The guidance is below market expectations. The average forecast in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of analysts and brokerages is net profit to rise 4 percent to 356.7 million euros ($458.00 million).
Colruyt, whose financial year runs until the end of March, said that it was cautious in giving its forecast for the year because of tough competition and an uncertain economic environment.
“We can only partly pass on higher food prices to customers and higher wage costs and energy prices are weighing on our costs structures,” Chief Executive Jef Colruyt told shareholders at the group’s annual meeting at its headquarters just outside of Brussels.
For the 2011/2012 financial year, Colruyt also guided for a net profit close to the previous figure but eventually beat its guidance with a 1.5 percent profit increase.
In the first quarter, the group’s sales figures slightly beat expectations following a successful campaign to lure thrifty consumers into its stores.
Colruyt, which in Belgium competes with Delhaize and Carrefour as well as German hard discounters Aldi and Lidl, also grabbed a larger share of its home market. ($1 = 0.7788 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)