Swedish retailer Axfood said today (16 July) that first-half sales were propelled by growth at its wholly-owned Willys, Hemköp and PrisXtra chains.

"Sales at our group-owned stores increased at a faster rate than sales at our businesses which are operated as a partnership, as we have been making investments to grow these chains," a spokesperson confirmed.

Retail sales at group-owned stores rose 3.3%, while like-for-like sales at group-owned outlets were up just 0.7%, reflecting store openings.

Axfood's consolidated sales totalled SEK1.59bn (US$20m), a year-on-year increase of 2%.

However, operating profit for the January-June period was SEK503m, down from  SEK516m.

Nevertheless, Axfood confirmed that it is aiming to generate operating profit of "at least" SEK1bn in fiscal 2009.