Johannesburg - Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM] the local retailer majority owned by Walmart Stores, said on Monday first-quarter sales rose nearly 15% and forecast a solid year ahead. Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, took a 51% stake in Massmart in June, targeting a rise in consumer spending as sub-Saharan Africans earn more money. Sales for the 14 weeks to October 2 rose 14.7% from the same period a year earlier, Massmart said on Monday. “With the first quarter’s sales indicating a return to stability with growth in all categories and divisions, the financial year ahead looks to be solid. Management will have to balance operating discipline with the investment in growth and the speed of integration,” the company said in a statement. The competition appeals court will hear a two-day appeal from three government departments and the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union this week. The government and the union want the conditions on the deal changed. The Competition Commission approved the acquisition in May with minimal conditions. The government and the union want stricter conditions on Massmart’s use of local suppliers.