Sweden's ICA Gruppen has reported sales growth of 6.7%, to SEK 34.6 billion (€3.3 billion), in the second quarter of its financial year.
In a trading update, the company described its performance as ‘stable’ in a ‘challenging world’ as high inflationary pressure and macroeconomic uncertainty weighed on the quarter.
ICA Gruppen’s CEO, Per Strömberg, commented, “We find ourselves in a challenging environment that is not showing signs of easing in the immediate future. On the contrary, we have not yet seen the full effects of continued strained value chains, interest rate hikes and rising inflation.
“For ICA Gruppen’s part, we were challenged during the quarter by rising costs and smaller volumes in our grocery retail business. Despite this, as a company group, we have managed to grow both our sales and earnings, which shows the strength of being a cohesive company group.”
Operating profit for the quarter rose 5.9% year-on-year to SEK 1,531 million, driven mainly by a good performance by Apotek Hjärtat and ICA Bank.
The retailer added that ICA Sweden witnessed stable performance, even though ICA’s store sales were weaker than market growth and the margin narrowed compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Online grocery sales continued to decline during the quarter, but are still double the level before the pandemic.
Rimi Baltic’s earnings were affected by inflation and mounting competition, while its real estate arm saw a stable quarter.
Strömberg added, “The cost trend is affecting all of our operations, our suppliers and our customers.
“In this challenging environment we are embracing our double societal responsibility: We are rallying for Swedish food production at the same time that we are working hard to give customers the best price value despite growing inflation.”