Jeronimo Martins has revealed that net profit soared during the fourth quarter of 2009, up 48 per cent year-on-year to €61.7m, on the back of higher sales and falling group debt.

According to the Portuguese retailer, net sales for the October-December 2009 period rose 7 per cent to just under €2bn, with earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 9 per cent to €154m.

'Strong sales and results performance in 2009 confirmed the soundness of the group's main formats in an adverse macroeconomic environment,' the group said in its financial release.

For the full year of 2009, sales jumped 6.1 per cent (18.4 per cent at constant exchange rates) to €7.3bn from €6.9bn in 2008, with net profit climbing 22.8 per cent to just over €200m.

Meanwhile, net debt for the 12-month period was reduced to €692m, the group said.

'The group remains positive with regards to the evolution of sales and earnings for 2010,' the company statement read. 'Biedronka will still be the group's major growth driver, both through expanding its store network – where and increase in sales area of over 10 per cent is expected – and through maintaining a solid LFL sales evolution.

'Whilst maintaining a prudent approach towards the macroeconomic environment, Jerónimo Martins believes that its business models operate unique value propositions, focused on price efficiency of the operations and are well positioned to continue outperforming the sectors in which they operate.'