French retail giant Casino said annual sales rose - despite losses from its Dutch unit Laurus - lifted by a strong performance from its discount and convenience store chains in France.

For the year to December sales rose 4% to 22.8bn euros boosted by its strong food offering which accounts for 85% of sales.

International sales, which account for 23% of sales jumped 17.6% at constant exchange rates while organic growth from the French business was 6%.

The company said it would continue to focus on its most profitable units, notably the convenience and discount units, both at home and abroad.

It added that Laurus was well on the way to recovery and said it expected it to contribute around 4.5bn euros to Casino group sales in the long term.

Casino said it targeted an increase in organic revenue of more than 6% in 2003.