Blue Square Israel, the country's second-largest food chain, beat its rival Super-Sol, the No. 1 chain, by reporting a steeper rise in profitability, "contrary to the consensus among analysts".

The chain, which runs Blue Square, Mega, Shefa Shuk and Super Center outlets, reported a 2% increase in year-over-year revenues, to NIS1.31bn (US$300m) in the first quarter of 2005. A report in Haaretz notes that Blue Square achieved a higher operating profit of NIS527m and a net profit of NIS21.8m, up 60% compared with the parallel quarter of 2004.