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Auchan Hungaria revenue climbs 10% on acquisition

Revenue of the Hungarian unit of French supermarket chain Auchan rose 10% to HUF 300 billion in 2012, climbing on the acquisition of seven Cora stores in the country, Auchan Magyarország CEO Dominique Ducoux said at press conference on Tuesday. Excluding the acquisition, turnover of Auchan's twelve stores fell about 5% Ducoux said. He blamed the drop on higher taxes, lower purchasing power and the elimination of food vouchers the stores accepted earlier. He added that sales improved after the stores started accepting Erzsébet vouchers - issued under a government initiative to unify Hungary's voucher system - last December. The number of shoppers rose 15% to 36 million, including the new stores, but fell by 3% without them. Ducoux said the unit was loss-making last year because of investment costs, but was profitable at operating level. This year, Auchan plans to spend HUF 5 billion on store developments and it wants to build more petrol stations at stores. Last year, Auchan's petrol stations generated revenue of HUF 45 billion. Auchan's headcount rose by 2,700 to 8,000 with the acquisition of the Cora stores. Auchan Magyarország paid HUF 4 billion on a retail sector "crisis tax" last year, Ducoux said. The tax has been phased out, but new tax measures mean the unit will make just HUF 2.5 billion in tax savings, he added. Asked about the introduction of a state monopoly on retail tobacco sales from summer, Ducoux said tobacco accounts for just HUF 2 billion of turnover at Auchan stores.