Musgrave Group, the Ireland-based retailer, saw pre-tax profits jump 16% in 2007 thanks to strong sales growth.

Profits reached EUR94m (US$148.8m), the company said, with sales up 6% to EUR4.9bn.

Chief executive Chris Martin said: "We delivered a satisfactory set of results for 2007 with retail and wholesale sales increasing."

Musgrave has shaken up its UK business in the last 12 months with the Budgens sale sealed in January and the acquisition of Northern Ireland retailer J&J Haslett secured last July.

Retail sales in the UK rose 13% last year and Martin labeled both deals "milestones in the development of the business in the UK".

Martin added: "We face a more challenging economic environment but remain confident for our business. We are continuing to focus on our strategy of delivering long-term sustainable growth."

In Ireland, retail sales climbed 12% and the company is embarking on a major expansion programme this year, creating 1,200 jobs and opening new outlets around the country.

Musgrave plans to invest some EUR180m (US$263m) on expanding its Irish network of stores and upgrading its existing ones over the next 12 months. The number of new stores Musgrave will open is yet to be confirmed.

In Spain, sales from Musgrave's SuperValu and Dialprix retailers rose 7%.