Grocery retailer and distributor Supervalu has higher pre-tax profits for the year ended 26 February 2005, despite lower sales.

Net sales were $19.5bn, compared with $20.2bn in the previous year. Pre-tax profit was $601m compared with $455m a year ago.

The company's net sales in the fourth quarter were $4.59bn, compared with $5.04bn in the same period a year ago. Pre-tax profit in the quarter was $135m compared with $149m a year ago.

Last year's fourth quarter reflected an extra week, which contributed approximately $360m of net sales and $9.9m of net earnings, the company said.

"Supervalu continues to deliver strong results," said Jeff Noddle, chairman and chief executive officer. "Fiscal 2005 set a record net earnings level as diluted earnings per share grew 35% and when eliminating this year's one-time gain on the sale of WinCo and last year's extra week, fiscal 2005 diluted earnings per share increased 16%."

"We implemented sizable initiatives during the year, maintained a strict basis point discipline that supports our competitive customer offerings, invested for growth and returns, and improved our overall financial condition," he said.