South African retailer Woolworths Holdings has booked an increase in full-year profits as the company benefited from share buy backs during the year.

In the 12 months ended 24 June, earnings attributable to shareholders increased 25% to ZAR2.06bn (US$248m). Operating profit in the period increased 26.6% to ZAR2.69bn. sales climbed 12% to reach ZAR28.6bn.

Woolworths’ food division experienced “strong” growth for the year with sales up 11.9%, growing 1.3% ahead of the market. Increased margin together with good cost control resulted in segmental profit before tax growth of 35.5%.

Headline earnings climbed 22.3% to ZAR1.99bn. The company said it bought back shares worth ZAR286m during the year, in addition to buying back ZAR358m of shares to settle employee schemes.