The Renault group has posted sales off 4.2% in a global market down 4.8%.

Sales outside Europe rose 1.5% to 873,798 units, accounting for almost 37% of volume.

In a European market off 8.1%, the group boosted market share 0.2 points after continuing its strategy of reducing sales to short-team leasing companies, which it said had boosted residual values of used vehicles.

Renault claimed the largest market share growth in Brazil as sales rose 56.4% to a record 115,000 units and market share 1.2 points to 4.3%.

Group sales increased 6.8% in Russia, topping the 100,000 mark for the second consecutive year. The group continued to head the Moroccan market with a 27.8% share.

Asia-Africa region growth was 12.2%.

"The year was marked by the arrival of an unprecedented global financial and economic crisis," Renault said in a statement. "The crisis quickly hit the automotive markets, practically all of which fell considerably.

"Between May and September, the downturn spread across Europe, notably to the UK. Growth in international markets slowed and group sales on these markets did not compensate for the deterioration in Europe."

Emerging markets began to decline in October.

"The intensity of the crisis affecting the automotive sector and the brutal fall in our main markets led us to review our growth objectives for 2008. Despite the crisis, the Renault group has grown its market share," said sales chief Patrick Blain.

Inventory management and reduction will remain a priority throughout 2009, Renault added.

Chief operating officer Patrick Pelata said earlier this week Renault had met its target of reducing vehicle stocks to end-2007 levels by the end of 2008.

On Thursday alliance partner Nissan said it would cut 1,200 jobs at its plant in north-east England.