Colruyt, the Belgium-based retailer, has booked an 8% rise in half-year profits, thanks to increased sales - but the company warned margins at its namesake chain were "under some pressure".

The company posted net profit of EUR162.5m (US$244.7m) for the six months to the end of September. Group sales were up 7.1% at EUR3.32bn.

Operating profit rose 7.8% to EUR229m, although EBIT margins remained "stable".

Colruyt said the recession had seen consumers focus more on price, which had weighed on margins from its eponymous outlets.

Nevertheless, the retailer said its share of the Belgian grocery market had risen year-on-year, reaching 23.1% in the three months to the end of September - compared to 22.4% a year earlier.

Colruyt stood by its previous target of annual net profit of EUR320m.