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Mercator Expects a Record EUR 3bn in Net Sales in 2012

Ljubljana, 28 February (STA) - The group around retailer Mercator expects a record EUR 3bn in net sales in 2012, up 3.5% year-on-year. $For the first time in history, the group's sales will exceed the 3bn mark,$ Mercator boss Žiga Debeljak told a press conference on Tuesday.

Operating in seven markets in Southeast Europe, the group expect further international expansion. This year it expects to generate just under a half of sales (44%) on foreign markets, up from 42% in 2011.

The group plans to earmark EUR 88m for investments in 2012, which compares to EUR 122m in 2011.

Mercator yesterday reported profits of EUR 23.5m for 2011, down 22.5% year-on-year, with Debeljak saying that 2011 was a "extremely difficult year", especially in the second half when business conditions deteriorated and affected the company's bottom line.

But overall, the group's performance was stable, said Debeljak, who announced a proposed dividend of EUR 4.5 per share, down from 8 EUR in 2010. The annual general meeting is scheduled for 30 March.

Mercator is Slovenia's largest employer and one of the biggest in Southeastern Europe. In 2011, the group employed 24,266 people, while in 2012 the number is expected to reach 24,915.

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