Australian retailer Coles Myer has reported a 28% rise in first-half profit, boosted by its fuel discount scheme.

The company posted net profit of A$349.5m (US$257.2m) for the six months to 25 January, compared to $272.4m in the year-ago period. Analysts had been expecting profit of around $314m, reported Reuters. Sales rose 13.3% to $15.7bn.

“This is…the highest interim profit and the strongest balance sheet in Coles Myer’s history,” chief executive John Fletcher was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

The strong results prompted Coles Myer to raise its full-year net profit forecast to $530m-540m from previous guidance of $520m-530m.

The company said its food and liquor division, which accounts for 65% of earnings, posted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $332.0m, a rise of 14.3% year-on-year.