the retail businesses in France. Same-store sales growth was 1.3% and organic growth was 1.2%, with all formats contributing to the increase.
Total gross sales under banner rose by 2.8%(1) over the year. The Casino Group continued to focus on the most buoyant formats, categories and geographies. Over 60% of net sales were generated by the 7,500 premium and convenience stores and around 60% were concentrated in France’s three most dynamic regions(2). This year, net sales of organic products by the various banners and the dedicated Naturalia format represented some €1 billion, representing an increase of more than 16%. The Group pursued the development of its e-commerce business, which accounted for 18%(3) of the business in France, driven by Cdiscount, which reported 9.3%(4) organic growth in gross merchandise volume. Moreover, the acquisition of Ocado technology and Monoprix’s partnership with Amazon Prime now enabled the Group to strengthen its position in food e-commerce.
In September 2018, Rallye signed a credit facility for an amount of €500 million, increasing the liquidity position to over €2.2 billion.
99% of the holders of 2020 exchangeable bonds exercised their put options, representing a par value of €370 million.
As at 31 December 2018, Rallye’s financial covenants were met with ample headroom. The consolidated EBITDA to consolidated cost of net debt ratio amounted to 4.14x (vs. a covenant at 2.75x), and Rallye’s standalone shareholders’ equity was €1,788 million (vs. a covenant at €1,200 million).
Rallye reiterates its strategy to maximize its assets’ value and confirms the strength of its financial structure.
Further to the Board of Directors’ decision of 13 March 2019, at the Shareholders’ Meeting to be held on 15 May 2019 the Company will ask shareholders to approve a dividend of €1.00 per share, unchanged from 2017, to be paid on 22 May 2019.
(2) Île-de-France, Rhône-Alpes and Côte d’Azur regions.
(3) Online sales under the banners and Cdiscount’s GMV.
(4) The organic changes include sales and services at “corners” (stores-within-stores) but exclude sales made in Casino Group hypermarkets and supermarkets, and 1001Pneus (acquired in October 2018). The overall impact of their exclusion represented 1.1 points and 1.7 points for GMV and net sales respectivelyand calendar effect.