Chinese retailer Sun Art Retail Group has booked an increase in first-half profit and said it will continue its store expansion in the back half of the year.

Sun Art, the local venture of French retailer Auchan, saw earnings climb 14.8% to CNY1.58bn (US$258.4m). Operating profit was up 12.8% to CNY2.30bn.

Sales reached CNY44.51bn, a 12.9% increase on the prior-year period. Same-store sales were up 4%.

CEO Bruno Robert Mercier the group will continue to "seize the opportunities" arising from urbanization, and will maintain a "steady pace" for new store openings in the second half of the year.

He added: "The group will endeavour to improve operational and staff efficiencies. Besides, we will actively explore the different e-commerce business models so as to provide customers with convenient ways to shop and develop new profit sources for the group. On the whole, we will embrace challenges arising from the changing market environment and enhance our leading position in the market."

During the period, the group opened 11 hypermarkets under the RT-Mart banner, bringing the total number to 284.

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