China's hypermarket operator Sun Art's 2012 profit jumps

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - China's largest hypermarket chain, Sun Art Retail Group, posted a 50.6 per cent jump in net profit due to retail network expansion into lower tier Chinese cities, showing its resilience to an economic slowdown that hit consumer demand.

Sun Art, a joint venture between Taiwan conglomerate Ruentex Group and privately held French retailer Groupe Auchan , said its profit attributable to shareholders for the year ended December jumped to a record 2.4 billion yuan (S$481.8 million) from 1.6 billion a year earlier.

Sun Art, which also competes with France's Carrefour and Britain's Tesco, said its turnover stood at 77.9 billion yuan, up from 68.08 billion yuan in 2011. Same-store sales growth slowed and came in at 3.3 per cent during the year, compared to 4.3 per cent in the first half period, and 8.8 per cent for 2011, it said in a stock exchange filing on Sunday.

Sun Art operated 230 hypermarkets across China under the Auchan and RT-Mart banners at the end of 2011, accounting for a 12.8 per cent market share, it said in a previous results presentation, citing estimates from Euromonitor.

Wal-Mart Stores ranked second in the hypermarkets segment with 11.2 per cent of the market, followed by China Resources Enterprise with 10.1 per cent and Carrefour with 8.1 per cent.