BERLIN German retailer Metro (MEOG.DE), which plans to split into two companies by mid-2017, reported that sales slipped 0.6 percent in the critical Christmas quarter due to weakness at its Real hypermarkets and sluggish performance in consumer electronics.
Sales for the October-December quarter rose 0.1 percent on a like-for-like basis to 17 billion euros ($18 billion), slightly below analysts' expectations for 17.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Smart Estimates.
Metro plans to split off the cash-and-carry business that serves independent traders, hotels and restaurants, along with Real, from the Media-Saturn consumer electronics group, hoping to help each become more focused and able to pursue growth.
The cash-and carry business saw sales rise 0.7 percent on a like-for-like basis, boosted by Spain, Turkey and China, Metro said on Tuesday.
It was also helped by a recovery in the Russian rouble and reported like-for-like sales growth in Russia despite more intense price competition. Metro scrapped plans to list its Russia business in 2014 at the height of the Ukraine crisis.
Meanwhile, Real hypermarkets in Germany, battling tough competition from discounters, saw same-store sales fall 1.7 percent due to a weak start to Christmas trade, with food sales hurt most.
Data out last week showed that German retail sales rose by between 1.8 and 2.1 percent on the year in 2016 in real terms, a slightly slower growth rate than in the previous year.
Metro confirmed its forecast for the 2016/17 fiscal year for a slight rise in overall sales and a slight improvement in earnings before interest and taxation before special items.
Metro said its Media-Saturn consumer electronics unit had flat like-for-like sales, with December turnover hurt by consumers pulling forward purchases due to the "Black Friday" sale in November.
It saw declines in sales of entertainment, photo and hardware products roughly offset by growth in smartphones, white goods and televisions.
British rival Dixons Carphone (DC.L) said last month it is planning for tougher times ahead although it has not yet seen any impact on consumer demand from Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Georgina Prodhan)