Europe's largest department store and mail order group, KarstadtQuelle has been badly hit by poor consumer spending. German business daily Handelsblatt reported that the Essen-based department store chain was planning to slash 3,000 jobs and cut salaries as a result. On Thursday, KarstadtQuelle announced that the second half of 2003 had yielded disappointing results after a relatively stable spell in the first half. "The crucial thing was the insecurity of consumers amid continuing reform discussions as well as the aggressive competition in Christmas sales," a spokesman said. KarstadtQuelle posted a net profit of €108 million last year, €30 million less than what analysts had expected. The company registered a profit of €162 million in 2002.