Canada's Empire Co. has booked a rise in revenue during the first half of its fiscal year as improved sales at its food retail chain offset a decline in the performance of its real estate business.

Empire, which operates Canada's second-largest grocery chain Sobey's, said retail sales rose to C$7.37bn (US$5.93bn) during the six months ended 1 November, up from C$6.85bn reported in the comparable period of last year.

Food retail sales were driven by increased square footage, discounts and pricing activity, the company said.

"The positive growth trend in same-store sales and earnings reflects a steadfast focus on day-to-day execution, the impact of merchandising innovations and disciplined implementation of cost and productivity initiatives," Empire CEO Paul Sobey said.

These gains offset a drop in revenue from the company's real estate activities, which nearly halved during the period. Real estate revenue fell to C$42.6m in the period, down from C$80m in the first half of last year.

Empire also booked a drop in net earnings which fell to C$140.8m, down from C$200m last year when the group booked an C$80.4m capital gain.