Metro Group has reported a 1.8% sales rise to €15.8bn (£12.3bn) in the second quarter of the year.

The world’s fourth-largest retailer said the performance had come against a “persistently difficult macro-economic environment”.

Pre-tax earnings before special items increased by 2.5% to €314m (£245.4m), the company said, despite investment on customer service and pricing.

The group revealed a one-off €172m (£109.7m) impairment charge resulting from the sale of Makro UK to Booker in May. Metro received £15.8m and a 9.99% stake in Booker in exchange for the loss-making wholesaler.

“We have picked up speed despite the headwind,” said Metro chairman Olaf Koch.

“Our focus on sustainable growth is paying off. Meanwhile, we are already seeing first positive effects on earnings. This encourages us to continue on the path taken.”

Western Europe excluding Germany dragged down group performance, with sales for the region contracting 2% to €4.9bn in the second quarter.