US retailer Supervalu Inc has more than doubled its first-quarter earnings reflecting improved operating margins and a gain from the sale of its five retail grocery banners.

In the three months ended 15 June, net earnings climbed to US$85m from $41m last year. Operating profit also soared, reaching $249m compared to $73m in the year ago period.

Sales in the period, however, dropped 1.5% to $5.16bn. The decline was primarily a result of a drop in identical store sales of 3% for retail food and 1.9% for Save-A-Lot.

“Our first quarter was highlighted by a renewed focus on driving sales and cash in all segments of our business and I’m pleased with the progress we made, especially the sequential improvement in sales trends from the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 in each of our business segments,” said Sam Duncan, CEO.

Click here to view the full earnings release.