Empire Co., the owner of Canadian retailer Sobeys, today (12 September) reported higher first-quarter profits thanks to growing earnings from its food division.

The company posted a 5.2% rise in operating income to C$127.5m (US$122.4m), as profits from its food division rose 7.8%.

On a group basis, revenue grew by 4.1% to C$3.5bn; same-store sales from the Sobeys business rose 3.5%.

President and CEO Paul Sobey said: "Sobeys continues to generate solid same-store sales growth as a result of its merchandising and productivity initiatives."

During the quarter, Empire completed its planned privatization of Sobeys, which also announced today that it had sealed the acquisition of Thrifty Foods, a local retailer based in the province of British Columbia.