Israeli group Alon Blue Square has said it is making progress in turning around its struggling supermarket unit, with sequential improvements in the business's results throughout the year. 

In the first quarter, the supermarket business racked up a loss of NIS3m on an operating profit margin of -0.2%. That improved to an income of NIS11m in the second quarter, NIS23.7m in the third quarter and NIS28.7m in the most recent period. 

During the 12 months, Alon Blue Square focused on investing in price, while also implementing store closures and efficiency improvements to reduce costs. 

The supermarket result was nevertheless significantly down on last year's performance. Segment operating profit more than halved in the year, dropping to NIS60.4m in 2013 compared to NIS126.2m in 2012. 

Alon Blue Square has booked an increase in group profits despite a steep drop in the contribution from the Israeli group's supermarket arm. 

The chemicals-to-retail conglomerate said operating profit rose to NIS175.7m in 2013, up from NIS100.65m in 2012. Group net income totalled NIS22.3m, compared to a net loss of NIS117.4m in 2012, when the group was hit by higher financing expenses and operating costs. 

Higher profitability in 2013 was also driven by top-line growth. Total group revenues rose to NIS15.64bn in 2013, up from NIS14.86bn in the comparable period of 2012.