Japan's third-largest supermarket chain, Aeon Co, says it expects to beat its own profit forecasts for the current fiscal year.

For the full year, through to 14 March, Aeon expects to post group operating profit of ¥120bn (US$908.5m); a 14% increase on earlier forecasts. Pre-tax profit is meanwhile now expected to be ¥110bn, rather than ¥100bn.

According to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the chain is attributing the anticipated increase to improved sales at its US women's clothing unit, Talbots Inc.

An Aeon spokesman said: "We are seeing double-digit sales growth from Talbots.

"Although the final figures have not been tabulated, these figures are probably not too far off. Earnings are looking strong."

Aeon will post its 2001/02 results in April.