Almarai Co. has said that its profits in the first quarter of this year rose as investments in productivity and efficiency began to pay dividends.

Net profit for the three months to 31 March rose 32.1% to SAR162.2m (US$43.3m), the company said in its quarterly statement released to the Saudi bourse.

Turnover was up 38.7% to SAR1.12bn and operating profit increased 34.5% to SAR194.5m.

“This rise is due to investments by the company to increase its capacities and its competitiveness,” Almarai said.

Last year Almarai said it will invest SAR4.7bn in the five years to 2011 to boost its food businesses in the Gulf.