US retailer Safeway Inc has recorded an increase in first-quarter earnings, despite a dip in sales.

In the three months ended 23 March, net profit jumped to US$118.9m from $72.9m last year, as the period included a 14-cent-per-share tax benefit. Operating profit, however was down 5.3% to $179.8m.

Total sales were essentially flat in the period, dropping slightly to $9.99bn from $10bn last year. The retailer recorded an identical-store sales increase of 1.5%, which was offset primarily by the disposition of Genuardi’s stores in 2012 and lower fuel sales in 2013.

“We are pleased that we continued to see market share gains in the first quarter,” said outgoing CEO Steve Burd. “Just for U usage continues to grow, and our partner fuel reward programme is rolling out on schedule and resonating well with consumers.”