CANADA: Profits at Metro were up 41% to $76.3m (£43m) for the 12 weeks to 14 March, while like-for-like sales rose 7.3% to $2.55bn (£1.43bn).

"This is the result of our continued solid performance in Quebec and improving results in Ontario, where our merchandise initiatives, store renovations and better execution have gained traction," chief executive Eric La Fleche said.

JAPAN: Sales at Japanese supermarkets fell 1.7% during 2008 - the 12th consecutive annual fall. The Japan Chain Stores Association said total sales at major supermarkets last year were 13.17trn yen (£93.1bn). Non-food sales were hit worst, with clothing down 9%. But sales of beverages and frozen desserts did well due to the hot summer, while frozen sales grew by 0.5%.

"Government cash handouts won't ease people's anxiety for the future and the severe situation will continue for a while," a JCSA official said.

SOUTH AFRICA: Pick n Pay, South Africa's largest retailer, has reported improved sales and profits for the year, after cutting margins in a bid to win more customers. The retailer has opened 67 new branches in South Africa in the past year, boosting sales by 17.4% for the year to February to R49.9bn (£3.9bn). Profit margins were cut from 3.6% to 3.4%. Its Australian discount supermarket chain, Franklins, delivered profits of AU$3.6m (£1.75m) for the year to 28 February, just a year after making a loss of AU$4.95m (£2.41m).

MD Aubrey Zelinsky said plans to spend AU$50m (£24.4m) over three years refurbishing stores was paying off. "Our discount supermarket model has proven resilient in this challenging economic environment, reflected in the strong growth in profitability," Zelinsky said.

USA: Shares in top American meat companies Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and Hormel Foods fell this week amid fears of a swine flu pandemic. China and Russia have both banned pork imports from some US states hit by the virus. Smithfield is the world's largest pig and pork producer and has operations in Mexico. Tyson is the world's largest meat company and the number-two US pork producer.