Regional US supermarket group and food distributor Spartan Stores has booked an increase in third-quarter earnings.

Net profit in the three months to the end of December amounted to US$5.2m, a 2% increase on the prior-year period. Operating profit was down to $11.5m from $13m a year earlier.

However, net sales dropped 0.9% to $797.2m as a result of lower distribution and supermarket sales, partially offset by increased fuel sales.

“Despite ongoing macroeconomic challenges, we made continued progress in the execution of our key strategic priorities during the third quarter,” said CEO Dennis Eidson. “We continued to invest in both our distribution and retail segments by opening new stores, remodeling existing stores, refining our promotional efforts and strengthening our private brand offerings.”