Carrefour faces 'difficult' year ahead in weak eurozone

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Carrefour, Europe's biggest supermarket chain, says the year ahead will be tricky as recessions in Italy and Spain have hit demand.

The company said it would increase spending on its hypermarkets by about 2.2bn euros (£1.9bn, $2.9bn) to try to revive sales and profits.

But its profits fell less than feared and shares rose 5% in early trading.

Its operating income, which excluded one-off gains and losses, fell by 2.6% to 2.1bn euros.

In global terms, the company is the second-biggest retailer, beaten only by US giant Walmart.

Competing harder

Carrefour's giant stores have been hurt by competition from specialist stores and online shopping.

The company is trying to cut costs and compete harder on prices.

It had expanded in emerging markets, including China and Brazil, but pulled out of non-core areas, such as Singapore and Colombia in 2012.

It has raised 2.8bn euros from selling these divisions.

Net profit from continuing business was 113m euros, after certain exceptional charges including changes to the company's tax payment.

Carrefour has cut its net debt by 2.6bn euros to 4.32bn.

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