Finnish retail group Kesko saw profits in its food division drop for the first quarter of 2010, despite a lift in sales.

For the three months to the end of March, operating profit dropped EUR2.1m (US$2.7m) on the previous year to EUR31.7m.

This was a result of an increase in real estate maintenance costs and a “cold and snowy” winter, the firm said today (27 April).

Net sales in the food division, however, were up 2.8% to EUR912m.

Grocery sales at K-food stores increased by 4.1% and a “good sales performance” was achieved by K-citymarkets and K-supermarkets.

For the group, profit before tax increased to EUR21.9m from EUR18.2m in the first quarter of 2009, while sales dropped 3% to EUR1.96bn.

Operating profit also fell to EUR20.9m from EUR23.2m in the comparable period of 2009.