Spar Stores on Ntemi Piliso , Johannesburg CBD. Nicholas Rama

JOHANNESBURG - Retailer Spar said on Wednesday its headline earnings per share rose 13.8 percent to  541.2 cents in the six months ended March 31.

The company said its strong performance was boosted by satisfying contributions from the European operations, with total turnover growing 5.6 percent to R50 billion against the backdrop of tough trading markets.

Profit after tax improved 13.2 percent to R1.03 billion, due to lower effective tax rates in South Africa and Ireland.

The retailer declared an interim gross cash dividend of 270 cents per share out of income reserves.

It said despite the early indications of improving consumer and business confidence in southern Africa, the trading environment was expected to remain largely unchanged in the medium term.

"While food price inflation has recently dropped to low levels, there is a real risk that this cycle will start to turn," it said.

Recent movements in fuel prices and foreign currency also suggested that consumers would remain under pressure, with a constrained spending outlook.

"In response, SPAR’s extensive distribution capability and market-leading brands are well positioned to deliver exceptional value to consumers and thereby ensure that its independent retailers remain suitably positioned to meet these challenges," the company added.

- African News Agency (ANA)