However, Christmas figures were less impressive, with reductions in like-for-like sales of 1.4 per cent for the 10 weeks of the second half of the fiscal year. The retailer blamed price deflation over the holiday period for the dip in trading.
Somerfield chief executive Steve Back said: 'I am pleased that we achieved a significant increase in operating profit, while accelerating our estate renewal programme. We refitted more stores, converted 68 Kwik Save stores to the Somerfield fascia, developed the convenience business and closed under-performing sites. We are adding a significant amount of retail space through the acquisition of 114 Safeway compact stores, 34 of these are now in our ownership and are already trading successfully.'
The retailer took a one-off charge of£11.3 million for closing down Kwik Save operations in Scotland.