Australian food retailer Coles Myer has reported a 14.5% rise in second-quarter sales, beating market forecasts, helped by its discount fuel business.

The company said sales were A$8.63bn (US$6.79bn) for the quarter to 25 January, compared to $7.54bn in the year-ago period, reported Reuters. The company also said it core food and liquor sales from stores open at least a year rose 4%.

“Our food and liquor business has reported its best quarter in 18 months, and has closed the comparative sales gap with our major competitor,” chief executive John Fletcher was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

Coles Myer said the strong sales growth was due to its fuel business, which helped the retailer compete against rival Woolworths.

Coles Myer also backed its fiscal 2004 net profit forecast of up to 16% growth.