South African grocery retailer Pick n Pay saw headline earnings fall 12% during its first half due to what the company described as “some of the toughest trading conditions in the group’s history”.

The company said today (20 October) that headline earnings fell to ZAR357.7m (US$51.5m) or 75.31 cents per share in the six months to the 31 August – compared with 85.88 cents in the same period of last year.

“Over the past six months we have seen some of the toughest trading conditions in our group’s history, in an economic climate slow to recover from the global recession, a very competitive environment and low inflation,” the company said.

Pick n Pay’s revenue, however, rose 6% to ZAR25.2bn.

Pick n Pay reaffirmed its commitment to selling its Frankins operations in Australia, and should the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission not give it permission to complete the A$215m offer from Metcash, it will sell the stores either individually or in groups.

The company said it expects trading conditions in the second half to remain difficult, as the “after effects of the recession continue to be felt”.