Carrefour, the French grocery retailer, has announced its full year group sales rose 4.2%, while its sales outside of France were up by 8.3%.

The company said that it has continued to maintain its strong position in France although French hypermarket like-for-like sales were slightly down by 0.1%, compared to a rise of 3.6% over the first nine months of the year.

Convenience stores in France however were up by 3.1% for same-store sales. In a statement released today the company said: “We are now in a position to set the agenda on price and to win market share in our French hypermarkets on a consistent basis.”

Sales outside of France were strong, particularly in the areas of Spain, Greece, Portugal, Brazil, Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.

Total sales in Spain grew by 7.3% including 5% on a like-for-like basis. In comparison, in Italy where consumer spending remains weak total sales grew by 1% but like-for-like sales were down by 2.2%.

The company also noted it has achieved its objective of opening at least one million square metres of new space in 2004, opening a total of 934 new stores. This included 44 hypermarkets, 107 supermarkets, 554 hard discount stores and 225 convenience stores.

It also noted that: “We will have reduced net debt in 2004 by significantly more than the E500m promised, despite buying back 11.2m shares, representing 1.5% of our share capital, of which 11m have been cancelled.”