FRANKFURT - The European debt crisis is hurting demand in the continent's biggest economy, Germany, the chief executive of Metro told a newspaper, warning the world's No.4 retailer would not escape the pain.

"The euro crisis is hindering Germans' desire to buy. We expect a slight rise in consumption this year at best. This will have a significant impact on our business," Olaf Koch was quoted as saying by German weekly Bild am Sonntag, in an interview published on Sunday.

Metro aims to improve 2012 sales from the 67 billion euros ($82.5 billion) booked in 2011, and keep core profit at roughly last year's 2.37 billion euros.

The group said in May it slipped into a loss in the first quarter, as it invested in new products and services to lure cash-strapped shoppers in Europe.

At the time, the company said its first-quarter result was hurt by heavy investments such as the website for its Media-Saturn chain of electronics stores, an attempt to tap into the increasing numbers of consumers who do their shopping online.

"We are convinced that our two online shops on and will be able to generate triple-digit million euro revenues very quickly," Koch told Bild am Sonntag.