Canadian baker and owner of the Loblaw grocery chain George Weston has reported Q4 profits down 4% to C$231m (US$151.1m) during the three months ended 5 January, down from $240m during the same period of the previous year.

A rise in expenses and a wider loss in the fisheries division were blamed for the disappointing quarterly profits. Sales performed well during the quarter, rising 7% to $6.6bn compared with $6.2bn during the year-ago period.

The Toronto-based company company reported a wider operating loss at its salmon farming division – $10m before interest, taxes, goodwill, unusual items and minority interests compared with an operating loss of $1m a year earlier. Fisheries sales for the fourth quarter of $48m were 14.3% below last year.

For fiscal 2002, profits at Weston rose 18% to $690m compared with $582m in 2001. Revenues jumped 11% to $27.4bn, compared with $24.7bn.