Channel Islands based Le Riche Group posted a bullish set of full-year trading figures in the face of heavy competition and soaring labour costs. Chairman Sir Michael Wilkes said the 11.5% jump in sales was "ahead both of our business plan and market expectation," despite relentless rivalry from Safeway and the Channel Islands Co-op. Pre-tax profit nudged up 0.9% to £7.1m, dented by one- off costs including taking a stake in local property company Comprop. Although acquisitions and the new Checkers hypermarket in Guernsey were responsible for the bulk of the sales rise, underlying growth still outstripped inflation in a relatively static market. But labour costs were rocketing as island authorities limited population growth. Merger talks with Jersey based brewer and wholesaler Ann Street were progressing well. A major retail development at St Brelade is on the cards for this year. {{NEWS }}