By Marcus Leach

Metro, the German retail giants, have confirmed they will postpone the selling of Kaufhof department stores due to what they described as 'disappointing' Christmas sales.

With financial markets in turmoil at present the firm said now would not be the best time to agree to any form of sale.

It also posted sales of 19.5bn euros in the final three months of 2011, a fall of 1.3% compared with a year earlier. Sales for the full year were down 0.8%.

"The past year was strongly impaired by extraordinary developments," said Metro's chief executive Olaf Koch.

"In particular, the sovereign debt crisis, high unemployment rates and austerity programmes in many European countries have resulted in buying restraint among the customers.

"The present situation on the capital markets does not offer suitable conditions for such an important transaction."

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