US retail giant Safeway saw its operating profit for the first half of 2008 increase to US$853.5m from $783.4m last year.

Revenue for the 24 weeks to 14 June also saw a steady rise to $20.1bn from $19.1bn for the same period in 2007.

"Our earnings performance this quarter was strong in light of a soft sales environment and the Easter holiday shift," said CEO Steve Burd. "We produced this earnings growth primarily through efficient retail execution, cost reduction and sales mix improvement."

The company said it remains confident it can deliver earnings per share growth of 13-18% for the 53-week year.