Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins' profit up 8% as sales rise

LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese retailer Jeronimo Martins JMT.LS on Wednesday reported a strong 8% rise in third-quarter net profit on a near 9% increase in sales, led by its Polish unit despite the loss of 10 trading days due to the country's Sunday trading ban.

Net profit totaled 121 million euros ($134.5 million), Jeronimo Martins, the largest food retailer in Poland and second-largest in Portugal, said in a statement.

Same-store sales at its Biedronka supermarket chain in Poland jumped 7.8%, reflecting in part rising food inflation, which reached 6.7% in the quarter, despite the new regulation that prohibits opening supermarkets on some Sundays.

Biedronka opened a net of 32 new stores in the quarter and total sales at the unit rose 10.9% in local currency.

Jeronimo Martins also achieved same-store sales growth of 2.4% at its domestic Pingo Doce supermarket chain.

“These results highlight our banners’ remarkable ability to grow consistently faster than the markets in which they operate,” CEO Pedro Soares dos Santos said in a statement.

However, the company may still face challenges in Poland, where the introduction of a retail tax remains on hold. Under the scheme, retailers with monthly revenue of more than 170 million zlotys will be taxed more heavily than smaller rivals.

In the first nine months of 2019, the company’s total net sales rose by 6.7% to 13.7 billion euros and net profit increased 3.5%.

Reporting by Catarina Demony, editing by Andrei Khalip