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Debt-Laden French Retailer Casino Posts H1 Operating Loss

PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped retailer Casino posted a group operating loss of 233 million euros ($258.5 million) in the first half of 2023, as falling sales and price cuts at its hypermarkets and supermarkets hit its core French operations.

Casino is in talks with Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky over a plan to inject 1.2 billion euros of new money into the distressed French retailer, and it is still discussing a plan with creditors to restructure its debt pile to avoid bankruptcy.

Kretinsky's rescue plan would bring an end to the 30-year reign of Casino CEO and controlling shareholder Jean-Charles Naouri at a time when France's traditional retail sector is adapting to the rise of e-commerce and hard-discount supermarket chains.

Finance Chief David Lubek told journalists the goal remained to have a deal with creditors by the end of the day.

The French retailer said earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was a loss of 233 million euros against a profit of 166 million euros in the first half of 2022, with its operations in France posting a loss of 299 million euros.

Consolidated group net sales fell 1.2% like for like in the second quarter to 5.5 billion euros, with retail sales in France down 4.2%, reflecting growth in the Parisian and convenience stores but a 15.3% fall in hypermarket and supermarket sales, with prices 10% lower on average.

"In hypermarkets there has been a sequential improvement since the price cut in terms of customers and volumes, but the inflection is significantly less marked than in supermarkets," the group said in a ststement.

Group net debt at end June-2023 was 6.1 billion euros against 6.0 billion at end June-2022.

France's sixth-largest retailer is facing the consequences of years of debt-fuelled deals that, following recent losses in market share and revenue declines, have put it on the verge of bankruptcy.

($1 = 0.9013 euros)

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Kim Coghill and Lincoln Feast

Source: Reuters

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