The UK’s Big Food Group has reported a rise in full-year profits, despite fierce competition in the grocery retail sector.

The group posted profit before tax of £50.1m (US$60.9m) for the 53 weeks to 2 April, compared to £37.1m in the previous year. Operating profit before goodwill amortisation and exceptional items rose 20.7% to £75.3m. Total net sales were £5.15bn, up from £5.06bn in the previous year.

“Despite an increasingly competitive grocery trading environment, in which structural change has accelerated markedly in recent months, the group has delivered a 35% increase in pre-tax profits. During the year we successfully launched many of the initiatives trialled last year to build a strong, fully integrated food group. Importantly, we are realising planned returns from the strategic investments we have already made. We are now picking up the pace of investment in order to compete more effectively in the future,” said CEO Bill Grimsey.

The company’s Iceland frozen food chain completed 100 refits during the year, as the chain continues to develop its convenience offers. Like-for-like sales rose 0.7% at Iceland, compared to group like-for-like sales growth of 1.5%.

However, the company said that for the six weeks to 14 May, group like-for-like sales were down 0.8%, while Iceland like-for-like sales slid 1.9%.