US grocery retailer Kroger Co has reported higher quarterly earnings, boosted by a 5.9% increase in sales.

The company reported net earnings of US$142.7m, or 19 cents per share, for the third quarter to 6 November, compared to $110.2m, or 15 cents per share, for the third quarter of 2003.

Total sales increased 5.9% to $12.9bn for the third quarter. Identical food-store sales, including fuel, increased 3.2% and, excluding fuel, increased 1.8%.

“We are very pleased with our sales performance in the third quarter. Kroger’s identical food-store sales showed strong improvement over the second quarter,” said David Dillon, Kroger chairman and chief executive officer. “Our continued focus on fulfilling our customers’ needs is an important part of our strategy to increase earnings through strong, sustainable identical food-store sales growth.”