Australian supermarket operator Foodland Associated has posted a sharp rise in first-half net profit, despite fierce competition in the grocery retail sector.

Foodland, Australia’s third-largest supermarket retailer, posted net profit of A$77.8m (US$57.2m) for the first half, compared to $60m in the first half of the previous year, reported Reuters.

Sales from continuing operations rose 2.6% to $2.95bn, excluding results from New Zealand department store chain Farmers, which Foodland sold five months ago. Foodland’s New Zealand supermarket operations accounted for 57% of first-half sales from continuing operations. Foodland is the second-largest supermarket operator in New Zealand.

“Foodland is now a company focused exclusively on its grocery retailing and wholesaling operations without the earnings volatility associated with department store retailing,” chief executive Trevor Coates was quoted by Reuters as saying.