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Retailer Wal-Mart de Mexico, known locally as Walmex, has blamed higher expenses and a shift in the timing of Easter for a 4.5% drop in first-quarter profits.

Net income came to MXN4.75bn (US$363.2m) for the three months to 31 March, compared to MXN4.97bn in the same period last year.

Sales climbed 2.1% to MXN101.41bn.

The company, which is controlled by US retail giant Wal-Mart, said sales were impacted by the late Easter and a soft performance from Sam’s Club.

“This year started with many challenges for our core customer in a still difficult economic environment, and we had a negative calendar effect, as Easter was in March last year and this time it takes place in April, moving from first quarter to second quarter,” said CFO Rafael Matute.

Gross margin improved to 21.8% from 21.5% in the prior year period. General expenses, however, rose 6.4% to MXN15.80bn over MXN14.86bn last year.

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By GlobalData