Woolworths Ltd has booked an increase in first-half profits, boosted by what the Australian retailer said was a “sharpened focus” on its core businesses.

In the 12 weeks ended 30 December, net profit climbed 19.4% to A$966.9m (US$990m), the retailer reported today (28 February). EBIT from continuing operations was up 6.1% to A$1.93bn.

Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien said the increase was a reflection of the “sharpened focus on our core businesses”.

“We have grown both sales and profits by pursuing a customer led strategy,” he said.

Woolworths reported its first-half sales earlier this month. Net sales grew 4.8% to A$30bn. Comparable-store sales in Australia increased 2.7%.