(Adds details and partnership with Gorillas)

PARIS, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Retailer Casino said on Thursday that sales momentum gradually improved in the third quarter, as easing COVID-19 restrictions helped its performance in France and sales growth in Brazil, the group’s second-largest market, remained robust.

Casino, which has been boosting its profitability through purchasing deals and cost cuts, also unveiled a new partnership with German quick commerce group Gorillas.

Casino, which has been selling assets to reduce its debt burden, confirmed it was pressing ahead with a disposal plan aimed at raising 4.5 billion euros ($5.2 billion), with 3.1 billion of deals signed or secured to date.

Sales at the group, which controls Brazil’s Grupo Pao de Acucar, totalled 7.7 billion euros in the third quarter.

On a same-store basis and excluding fuel and calendar effects, group sales rose 1%. That compares to a 4.1% decline in the second quarter when its city stores in France suffered from a lack of tourists and coronavirus curfew measures.

In France alone, sales were down 4.3% in the quarter after falling 8.4% in the second quarter.

$1 = 0.8663 euros Reporting by Dominique Vidalon Editing by Benoit Van Overstraeten and Mark Potter

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