Portuguese grocery retailer Jeronimo Martins has reported a sharp rise in first-quarter net profit despite lower sales.

Portugal’s second-largest retailer posted a first-quarter attributable profit of €13.3m (US$15.8m), compared to €1.3m in the same quarter of the previous year. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast earnings in the range of €5.6m and €17.1m.

Total sales were €781.8m, compared to €810.8m in the year-ago period. However, the 2003 sales figure includes €45.1m from businesses which have since been closed or divested. Same-store sales rose 2.1%.

Jeronimo Martins said its Portuguese operations had performed well despite the increased competition and struggling economy, reported Reuters.

The company’s Polish supermarket chain Biedronka posted sales of €225.2m, up 17% in local currency terms.