International News - Blue Square plagued by unrest in Israel

Israeli food retailer Blue Square is the latest casualty of the country's fraught internal security situation, and blamed fourth-quarter losses on difficult trading conditions.

Blue Square posted a net loss of NIS99.2 million (£13.4 million) compared with net income of NIS29.3 million (£3.9 million) last year. Fourth-quarter same-store sales slumped by 11.7 per cent.

However, the retailer remained in the black on the back of profits from the three earlier quarters, generating a year-end net profit of NIS7.4 million (£1 million) compared with NIS153.7 million (£20.8 million) last year.

Chief executive Yoram Dar blamed recession and the impact of renewed hostilities with the Palestinians. He said: 'The write-downs taken during the fourth quarter reflect the economic consequences of a market plagued by ongoing recession and two years of a difficult security situation.'

Blue Square runs more than 170 supermarkets under the Co-Op, Super Center, and Super Center City fascias, and has a 35 per cent market share.