Belgian supermarket operator Delhaize has reported a net profit of €467.1m (£433.2m) in its 2008 results published today.

Profits across the group last year were up 3.4 per cent on the 2007 figure, and sales rose 2.5 per cent in the US, where Delhaize generates 70 per cent of its sales.

Exceeding expectations for its performance last year, the group has predicted further growth in its profits for 2009.

Reacting to the announcement Citi analyst James Anstead said: “Although we remain concerned about how 2009 will pan out, these results are better than feared and the shares will likely react well, considering the fairly low expectations.”

Delhaize is predicting a further rise in profits of between 3.5 per cent and 6.5 per cent in 2009 compared with today's figures, which it aims to achieve by slashing costs by €100m (£92.8m) this year.

Delhaize president and chief executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers said: “Our profit growth for 2008 exceeded our guidance range as a result of sustained gross margin supported by increased private brand sales, continued efficiencies and disciplined cost management.

“Our strong revenue momentum in the fourth quarter, supported by stable or increasing transaction counts, puts us in a position of strength as we begin 2009.”