South African food retailer Spar Group said today (12 May) that it has ridden out “an extremely tough trading period” as it posted an increase in profits for the first half of the year.

In the six months to 31 March, Spar reported a 14.7% increase in profits with headline EPS increasing to 278.1 cents.

Turnover increased by 8.8% while operating profit rose by 13.2%, the company said in a regulatory filing.

Spar chief executive Wayne Hook said that the company had successfully managed its operating costs in the face of a highly competitive and promotional retail environment. Operating costs grew by 4.6% during the period, helped by lower oil prices and reduced bad debt write offs.

Looking to the remainder of the year, Hook said he expected to see a continued “tough trading environment”. However, he did predict a “modest increase” in inflation as well as a “more positive sentiment amongst consumers, particularly over the World Cup period”.