German retail and wholesale giant Metro said first quarter sales were pegged back to a 2.7% increase due to the recession in its home market, the strong euro and the late timing of Easter.

For the three months to March 31 group turnover rose to 12.1bn euros from 11.8bn euros last year. Profit before tax and interest climbed from a loss of 5.9m euros to a profit of 22.2m euros.

The group said the late fall of Easter had “significantly impacted results” but should give new impetus to sales in the second quarter.

Sales in its home market grew 3.3% to 6.7bn euros while international sales climbed 1.9% to 5.5bn euros.

At its Metro cash & carry division in like-for-like sales fell 3.9% while turnover rose 1.8% to 5.5bn.

The group’s Extra supermarket - undergoing a major restructuring process at the moment - saw like-for-like sales fall 3% with a 3.7% decline in sales to 68m euros.

Sales at its Real hypermarkets fell 3.8% to 1.9bn euros.

At the group’s non-food businesses, sales at Media Markt and Saturn rose 11.3% and by 22.4% at Praktiker DIY stores.

Metro opened 17 new stores in the first quarter of 2003, 14 of them Metro C&C the rest Media Markt/Saturn units. Metro has 2,317 outlets worldwide.