By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) -Portugal's No. 2 retailer, Jeronimo Martins, on Tuesday reported a 35% jump in second-quarter net income, with strong sales in its key market Poland, supported by the consumption of millions of Ukrainian refugees amid soaring inflation.
The company booked a net profit of 173 million euros between April and June, which this year included the Easter holiday season, up from 129 million euros a year earlier, when it was affected by COVID-19 restrictions.
It said in a statement that "in Poland, food sales continued to record solid growth driven by higher inflation and
"The measures implemented by the government to protect consumers from the increasing pressure over disposable income, combined with a more extensive consumer base due to the flow of Ukrainian refugees to Poland, should have contributed
to this trend," the company said.
Consolidated sales in the second quarter of the year rose 24.5% to 6.37 billion euros, driven by the company's market-leading Polish retail chain Biedronka, whose sales increased 24% to 4.45 billion euros.
It said food inflation in Poland reached 11.1% in the second quarter, compared with 8.7% in the previous three months, despite the reduction to zero of the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate on essential food products since February.
The United Nations estimated in late May that since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, some 3.5 million people had left Ukraine and entered Poland.
In Portugal, sales at the Pingo Doce supermarket chain rose 11% to 1.1 million euros.
Consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 22% to 479 million euros in the second quarter.
The company's total EBITDA margin - a key measure of profitability - remained stable at 7.2% in the first half, while Biedronka's margin slipped to 8.7% from 8.9%.
Chief Executive Pedro Soares dos Santos said there was "extreme uncertainty" but that the company "showed ability to navigate turbulent waters" with its strategy of profitable and sustainable growth.
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves in LisbonEditing by Matthew Lewis)