October 25, 2018 / 5:43 AM / 25 days ago

Russia, Real hypermarkets dent sales at Germany's Metro

FILE PHOTO: German retailer Metro AG signs on their supermarket trolleys are pictured in Duesseldorf, Germany March 02, 2018. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - German wholesaler Metro (B4B.DE) on Thursday said fourth-quarter sales fell due to another drop at its Russia business and the Real hypermarkets it is trying to sell, although its core business saw an improvement in like-for-like sales.

Group sales in the fiscal fourth quarter fell 2.3 percent to 9 billion euros (8 billion pounds), as sales tumbled 5.1 percent at its Real unit, which Metro said was partly due to unusually hot weather putting customers off from shopping.

Metro, which reports full 2017/18 results on Dec. 13, confirmed its outlook for a slight increase in earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation.

Metro has been restructuring its Russian business since poor performance at the unit forced it to issue a profit warning in April, hitting its shares. It has also announced plans to sell its struggling Real hypermarket chain.

The Russia unit saw sales fall another 7.7 percent in the quarter, although Metro said its strategic transformation was making “good progress”.

Overall, the wholesale business saw like-for-like sales rise 1.7 percent, helped by strong growth in the rest of eastern Europe, and in Asia.

Once a sprawling retail conglomerate, Metro has been restructuring in recent years to focus on its core cash-and-carry business, selling its Kaufhof department stores and then splitting from consumer electronics group Ceconomy (CECG.DE).

Analysts have speculated that the revamp could go further since Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky took a stake. On Wednesday, Metro said it is talking to banks about finding a partner for its China business.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson, Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Maria Sheahan

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