Chile's largest supermarket chain D&S has reported a 27.7% rise in first-quarter net profit as new stores boosted sales.

The company posted net earnings of 9.43bn pesos (US$13.5m) for the first quarter, compared to 7.39bn pesos in the year-ago period.

The retailer’s operating profit was 14.90bn pesos, an 18.5% rise compared to the first quarter of 2002. Same-store sales fell 4.5% while total sales rose 8.6% to $322m.

D&S officials said the company’s financial standing had not been affected by a debt dispute with Dutch retail giant Royal Ahold.

"The discrepancy we have with the Ahold chain over the unpaid debt it holds with D&S for the sale of the Ekono stores in Argentina, has not affected the financial situation of the company," financial manager Miguel Nunez was quoted as saying by Reuters.