South African supermarket group Pick ‘n Pay posted a 17.4% increase in annual turnover and said it remains “optimistic” for the year ahead.

For the year ended 28 February, turnover reached ZAR49.86bn (US$5.59bn), with a growth of 17.3% in the southern parts of Africa and 18.2% in Australia.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS) increased 13.4% to reach 232.48 cents. Diluted HEPS showed an increase of 18.1% as last year’s base already allowed for the full dilution of the 20m new ordinary shares issued on 31 December 2007.

“We remain optimistic for the year ahead due to our strategic investments now starting to bear fruit, the relief brought to consumers by lower interest rates and reducing inflation,” the company said. “We forecast improved growth in 2010 headline earnings per share over that achieved this year.”

Trading profit margin was down from 3.6% to 3.4% as a result of “significant price investment to help consumers”.

Franklins Australia saw a turnaround with a swing of ZAR52m to a ZAR23.5m trading profit before capital profits in the current year.

The retailer’s hypermarkets traded strongly, particularly in the new format and refurbished stores, while the company said its Pick n Pay Retail strategy implementation “continues to deliver according to plan.”