First annual rise for Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles

El Corte Ingles announced on Sunday that net profit rose 6 percent last year, its first annual rise for six years, in spite of weak consumer demand.

The privately owned retailer El Corte Ingles is one of Spain’s biggest employers with more than 93,000 staff. The group, which sold 51 percent of its consumer finance division to Spanish lender Santander last year for 140 million euros ($184 million), posted annual net profit of 174 million euros, but total sales fell 1.8 percent year on year to 14.2 billion euros.

Spain’s economy returned to growth in the second half of 2013 after a prolonged recession, helped in part by growing exports and after deep spending cuts, though high unemployment remains a threat to the recovery. The government is expected to make an upward revision of growth forecasts for this year, to 1.5 percent.

El Corte Ingles last year restructured nearly 5 billion euros of debt and sold a 600 million euro bond, its first ever. The group ended 2013 with nearly 3,400 fewer employees than in 2012.

adapted from Reuters

Louis Vuitton boutique at El Corte Ingles, Barcelona