French retail group Carrefour has reported solid growth for the first half of 2008, with year-on-year sales increasing by 8.5 per cent at current exchange rates to €41.9bn.

The rise represents the company's strongest first half growth since 2005, with net income from recurring operations and group share up 1.2 per cent to €750m.

'These are Carrefour's best first-half results since 2005,' said José Luis Durán, Carrefour's chief executive officer. 'This strong performance attests to the relevance of our multi-format single brand strategy on an international scale.'

Domestically, net sales increased by 1.2 per cent to €18.3bn, with the rest of Europe up 8.3 per cent to €15.6bn, driven by solid growth in Italy (1.4 per cent) and Spain (8.3 per cent).

Latin American sales, boosted by the integration of Atacado, rose 41.8 per cent to €4.9bn, while sales in Asia grew 8.1 per cent to €2.98bn.

'The group has robust fundamentals, with a business model focused primarily on food, a balanced portfolio of formats, leading positions in the countries where it operates, and a sound balance sheet, Mr Durán added. 'These strengths along with our competitive advantages such as the power of our brand and our real estate potential, give us the means to forge ahead and create greater value.'

Following the announcement, the group has confirmed its objectives for 2008, aiming for sales growth of 7 per cent at constant exchange rates and a generation of €1.5bn in free cash flow from operations.

'In an uncertain and challenging environment, the implementation of the operational action plan that we announced in July makes me confident that we will achieve our 2008 objectives,' Mr Durán said.