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Retailer Carrefour unveils share buyback after strong Q1 sales

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PARIS, April 21 (Reuters) - Carrefour, Europe's largest food retailer, said it would buy back up to 500 million euros ($601.40 million) of its shares this year, reflecting confidence in the success of its turnaround plan following a strong first quarter.

Carrefour, which last month agreed to buy Brazil's third-biggest food retailer Grupo BIG for about $1.3 billion, also maintained its financial and operational targets under its 'Carrefour 2022' strategic plan.

First quarter sales reached 18.56 billion euros, marking like-for-like growth of 4.2% and reflecting robust food sales in the key markets of Brazil, France and Spain.

In France alone, sales growth reached 3.5% in the first quarter and growth remained solid during the first weeks of April, including in hypermarkets.

Carrefour and food retailers across the world have been benefiting from demand generated as COVID-19 related lockdowns force consumers to stay at home.

Carrefour is in the midst of a five-year plan launched in January 2018 to cut costs and boost E-commerce investment.

The plan is aimed at helping Carrefour boost profits and revenues, and tackle competition from Amazon.

($1 = 0.8314 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)