ICA has seen “strong” growth in its earnings for the first quarter of 2012, as the Swedish retailer continued to benefit from improvements at its Baltic and Norwegian units.

The company said yesterday (9 May) its net income for the three months to the end of March rose to SEK438m (US$63.3m), up from SEK254m in the first quarter of last year. Operating income rose 39% to SEK681m, the group added.

ICA’s incoming CEO Per Strömberg attributed the higher profits primarily to “improvements in Norway and the Baltic countries” where the group has focused on achieving higher gross margins and cost controls.

“I know there is room for improvement in various parts of the group, and I am now devoting all my energy to get to know our businesses so that group management and I together can formulate a strategy for ICA going forward,” Strömberg added.

Net sales increased 6.5% to SEK23.3bn, boosted by an earlier Easter. Excluding currency fluctuations, sales were up 5.8%.

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