Far Eastern food and drugstore retailer Dairy Farm has posted a 3% growth in annual sales despite the SARS outbreak.

The group, which owns the Cold Storage supermarket chain and 7-Eleven franchise in Asia, said that for the year to December 31, pre-tax profit fell 59% to $143.1m from $351.6m, affected by exceptional gain in 2002 after the sale of Woolworths in New Zealand. Sales edged up to $3.45bn from $3.35bn.

Dairy Farm said the SARS outbreak had less impact on supermarkets than on foodservice outlets in Asia.