* Q3 sales 19.69 bln euros, up 8.4% like-for-like
* Q3 French hypermarket sales up 2.5% like-for-like
* 2020 consensus for recurring operating income fair - CFO
PARIS, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Carrefour is ready to
cope with tighter restrictions in France and elsewhere to curb
the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe's biggest retailer said on
Wednesday, as it posted its strongest quarterly underlying sales
growth for at least two decades.
With food retailers across the world benefitting from a
surge in demand as more consumers stay in to eat, the French
group reported a robust third-quarter performance at home, as
well is in other key markets Brazil and Spain.
Finance chief Matthieu Malige told analysts that meant
profitability at Carrefour's retail business should be better
than expected this year, although the pandemic would hit other
areas, such as financial services, travel and ticketing.
Overall, the market consensus for 2020 recurring operating
profit was "fair", Malige said, when asked to comment on a
Factset consensus of 2.089 billion euros ($2.47 billion). That
would be little changed from last year's result.
LOOMING FRENCH LOCKDOWN
French President Emmanuel Macron is due to make a televised
address on Wednesday evening amid reports the government has
been exploring a new, national lockdown from midnight on
Thursday, albeit a slightly more flexible one than the two-month
shutdown that began in mid-March.
"We are preparing for the possibility of further
restrictive measures being announced in the near future. We are
fully ready for the different scenarios in all our countries,"
Carrefour Chairman and CEO Alexandre Bompard said.
Best practices learnt during the previous lockdown included
the launch of new dedicated services, such as for the elderly,
as well as an increase in e-commerce capabilities and logistics.
Third-quarter group sales came to 19.69 billion euros
Growth was 8.4% on a like-for-like basis - excluding fuel
and calendar effects - against 6.3% in the second quarter.
That was Carrefour's best quarterly performance in at least
20 years, and beat market expectations of 5.3% growth.
It reflected in particular a stronger performance in France
where Bompard has made reviving flagging sales at hypermarkets a
priority and where consumer satisfaction is improving.
During lockdowns, customers have favoured supermarkets close
to home and convenience stores as well as e-commerce.
But since France ended its lockdown in mid-May, hypermarket
sales have shown a marked improvement and this accelerated in
the third quarter.
Sales at Carrefour's French hypermarkets rose 2.5% in the
quarter after a 3.6% decline in the second quarter.
In Brazil, Carrefour's second-largest market after France,
sales growth reached 26% from 14.9% in the second quarter,
driven by Atacadao cash and carry stores and hypermarkets.
Carrefour said it was on track with a strategic overhaul
aimed at boosting earnings and sales, and that it was sticking
with all the targets under the plan.
It launched a five-year plan in 2018 to cut costs and boost
e-commerce investment to improve profits and sales, as it seeks
- like peers - to tackle competition from online rivals such as
It is also expanding into convenience stores to reduce its
reliance on hypermarkets, focusing more on organic products and
($1 = 0.8461 euros)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and