Brazilian retailer CBD has reported higher annual profits from its food division, driven by a sharp increase in sales.

Net profit from the division for the 12 months to the end of December edged up 2.4% to BRL659m (US$383.9m), Brazil's largest retailer said. EBITDA climbed 15.6% to BRL1.95bn.

Net sales were up 8.8% to BRL28.4bn due to the company adding smaller supermarket chains through acquisitions. The firm, also known by its trading name Grupo Pao de Acucar, opened ten stores during the year and launched its Mini Mercado Extra banner, which replaced 19 Extra Fácil stores.

In the fourth quarter, net profit from the unit remained flat at BRL291m, although EBITDA grew 23.5% to BRL650m. Sales in the period amounted to BRL7.2bn, a 10.3% increase on the comparable period last year.

"The results presented herein show the force of a team that is totally integrated and determined to overcome challenges on a daily basis, exemplified by the fact that we achieved our annual objectives, exceeding our gross sales guidance of BRL50bn," said CBD CEO Eneas Pestana.

Group consolidated net profit grew 16.1% for the year to BRL718m, while EBITDA soared 49.6% to BRL3bn. Net sales amounted to BRL46.6bn, a 46% increase on the prior-year.

"We know the challenges will continue in 2012 and we are fully committed to ensuring the continuation of the group's sustainable expansion, seeking a competitive positioning with profitability and gains in market share," Pestana added,