Carrefour, the world's second-largest supermarket group, said Wednesday net profit rose 2.4 percent last year, helped by strong growth in South America and a recovery in its home market of France.
The company said in a statement that group net profits grew to 1.26 billion euros in 2013 ($1.72 billion), up from 1.25 billion a year earlier.
Recurring operating income at the French chain rose 5.3 percent to 2.24 billion euros, beating the average analysts forecast of 2.19 billion euros.
Shrinking operations cut group turnover by 2.6 percent to 84.3 billion euros during the year. But organic growth, which strips out items such as foreign exchange and petrol, rose 2.5 percent over the year.
Chief Financial Officer Pierre-Jean Sivignon said 2013 had been Carrefour's the best year for organic growth since 2007.
The results "confirmed the growth dynamic of Carrefour," despite "difficult conditions," he said in a conference call.
Growth in South America was particularly strong. Recurring operating profit in the region rose 18.6 percent over the period to 627 billion euros.
In France, Carrefour's biggest market, an "action plan" to attract customers with price cuts had helped to boost organic growth "across the board," Sivignon said.
Domestic sles rose 0.2 percent -- 1.3 percent organically -- to 39.72 billion euros, while operating profit jumped almost 30 percent. Commercial margins grew to 3.4 percent, up from 2.6 percent a year earlier.
Net profit from continuing group operations, excluding capital gains from the renegotiation of partnership agreements in Turkey, grew to 949 million euros -- up more than six times from a year ago.
Operating margins rose to 3 percent during the period, up from 2.8 percent in 2012.
Carrefour said weak growth in the rest of Europe, which is still recovering from the impact of the financial crisis, continued to weigh on profits.
That was despite improving conditions in the second half of the year, driven by economic recovery in Spain, said Sivignon.