Ahold-owned ICA has revealed an increase in operating income for the opening three months of the year of 39 per cent, rising to SEK681m (€76.4m), with total group sales up 6.5 per cent to SEK23.3bn (€2.6bn).

In the group's Swedish division, net sales grew 8.6 per cent to SEK15.4bn (€1.7bn), while operating income increased 2.7 per cent to SEK536m (€60m) – aided by the timing of Easter, which resulted in higher wholesale sales, Planet Retail noted.

While sales in Norway rose 1.6 per cent to SEK5bn (€561m), turnover dropped 1.5 per cent.

Rimi store sales turned in an operating loss of SEK120m (€13m), down from the loss of SEK234m (€26m) in 2011, while Rimi Baltic operating income increased 3.6 per cent to SEK2.42bn (€272m).