UK retailer Asda has booked an increase in profit last year, despite a “challenging” period for the economy and despite its new chain of small stores incurring losses.

In accounts filed at Companies House, the retailer reported a pre-tax profit of GBP506.9m (US$812.6m), compared to earnings of GBP491.8m last year.

Operating profit climbed 9.2% to GBP463.3m, while sales grew 5.5% to GBP21.7bn in the 12 months to the end of December 2011. Like-for-like sales were up 0.5%.

The retailer managed to record a profit despite the former Netto stores it acquired in 2010 incurring an operating loss of GBP31.4m on sales of GBP416m.

In the directors’ report, Asda said 2011 had “continued to be a challenging period for the economy and consumers. In this context Asda had a successful year in continuing to build trust with customers who are increasingly selective about what they buy and where they shop.”

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