* 2017 operating profit 1.242 bln euros, up 20.1 pct
* French 2017 operating profit 556 mln euros, up 9.4 pct
* Eyes profit growth, debt reduction in 2018 (Adds details from statement)
PARIS, March 8 (Reuters) - French retailer Casino on Thursday vowed to further grow profits in 2018 thanks to cost savings and improving sales in France and Brazil, as it posted a 20.1 percent jump in its 2017 operating profit.
Casino, which has stepped up its online offerings in recent months in the face of competition from Amazon, also said it would benefit this year from a deal to use British online retailer Ocado's E-commerce platform to expand its business.
Casino, whose credit rating was cut to junk by Standard & Poor's in March 2016, is under pressure to show it can revive profits in its main market of France at a time of slower growth in Brazil, its second-biggest market by revenue.
It kept its 2017 dividend unchanged at 3.12 euros and vowed to improve cash flow and cut its net debt this year thanks to asset sales, notably Brazilian appliance and electronics unit Via Varejo which it has put up for sale.
Operating income rose 20.1 percent to 1.242 billion euros ($1.54 billion), in line with the company's guidance for profits of 1.24 billion euros given in January.
Casino said its French operations achieved operating profits of 556 million euros in 2017 against 508 million euros in 2016, also in line with the company's guidance for profits above 550 million euros.
This reflected a good performance at the Franprix and Monoprix retail chains, improved profits at the Casino supermarkets and a better performance at the Geant hypermarkets despite tough competition in the French supermarket sector.
In France, which makes 55 percent of group sales, Casino has cut prices at Geant hypermarkets and reduced retail space for non-food items in response to competition from online and smaller convenience stores, while it has also increased its focus on organic and fresh food products.
For 2018, Casino aimed to deliver organic growth in consolidated operating profit for the group, and above 10 percent excluding tax credits.
In France it eyed organic growth of above 10 percent in operating profit, excluding real estate activities.
Casino shares, which rose 10.9 percent in 2017, have fallen around 12 percent so far this year, underperforming their European sector.
($1 = 0.8060 euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)