German retail giant Metro Group, the owner of Makro Cash & Carry, has posted a 2.3% increase in first-quarter sales to €15.5bn.

Profits surged by 55.9% to €136m during the period. Currency exchanges and an earlier Easter had boosted sales, as well as an easing of the economic crisis, Metro said.

However, sales in Metro’s wholesale arm, Metro Cash & Carry, which includes Makro UK, slipped 1.5% to €7bn, with sales in western Europe down 1.6% to €2.6bn.

"In some countries, the worst of the economic crisis seems to be over,” said Metro chief executive Eckhard Cordes.

“Although the situation remains challenging, we see a first economic silver lining on the horizon."

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