High Liner Foods has said it was “encouraged” by a first quarter in which its profits rose but sales fell, although the Canada-based seafood supplier said it had work ahead to improve its performance.

The company booked net income of US$13.7m for the 13 weeks to 2 April, up from US$12.5m a year earlier. Adjusted for items including M&A, integration, interest rate swap and share-based compensation costs, net income fell 1.3% to US$15.4m.

However, High Liner’s net sales fell from US$310.2m in the first quarter of last year to US$290.5m. Translating sales from Canadian dollars to US dollars had an effect but High Liner said sales in domestic currency were still down, dropping 4.4% year-on-year.

Nevertheless, president and CEO Keith Decker said High Liner had seen its “volume trends” improve “from those experienced in 2015”.

Decker said: “As expected, we benefited in the first quarter from lower raw material prices and incremental supply chain optimisation savings which increased Adjusted EBITDA as a percentage of sales to 10.1% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to 9.9% of sales in 2015.”

Looking further into 2016, Decker added: “While we are encouraged with the progress made in the first quarter, there is still work we need to do in 2016 to improve performance going forward. We will continue to focus on improving earnings through stabilising sales volume and managing costs.  Our raw material prices are expected to be relatively stable for the remainder of this year and completing outstanding supply chain optimisation activities remains a priority, including the transfer of New Bedford’s value-added fish production to our other facilities which is on track to be completed by the end of the third quarter of this year.”