Israeli supermarket company Blue Square-Israel has reported a slight decline in first-quarter net income despite a near 8% rise in revenues.

The company posted net income of NIS13.7m (US$2.96m) for the first quarter to 31 March, compared to NIS15.7m for the comparable period of 2003.

First-quarter revenues were NIS1.29bn, compared to NIS1.19bn in the first quarter of 2003. The increase derives primarily from the timing of the Passover season, which fell mostly within the first quarter of 2004, but entirely within the second quarter of 2003. However, revenues for January to April of 2004 increased by 4.8% compared to the same period of 2003, and same-store sales for the four-month period remained stable. Blue Square-Israel said this comparison, which eliminates the holiday effect, is evidence of a return to positive market trends after two years of sales decline.

Same-store sales for the quarter increased by 2.7%, reflecting the timing of the Passover buying season, offset by increased competition.