The Saudi food conglomerate \'Savola\' Group posted a 21.8 percent year-on-year rise in its first-quarter net profit to SR295.2 million ($78.72 million). Sales grew 9 percent to SR7.2 billion in the first quarter, it added. Operating profit amounted to SR711.3 million, an increase of 62 percent compared to SR438.9 million reported for the same quarter last year. Also, earnings per share reached SR0.59 compared to SR0.48 for the same period last year. In a press release issued yesterday, Dr. Abdulraouf M. Mannaa, Managing Director of Savola Group said that the increase in the Group’s net income for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter of last year is attributed mainly to stronger revenue growth in the foods sector (locally and overseas), led by the edible oils segment, and continued sales growth and increased market share in the retail sector (Panda Stores). As a result, the Group’s revenues for the quarter reached SR7.2 billion, an increase of 9 percent compared to SR6.6 billion for the same quarter last year. “This is the highest recorded net income from the Group’s operations for Q1 since its inception in 1979. It is the 8th successive quarter (since Q2 2011) in which the Group has posted its highest recorded net income from operations for a particular quarter, which is attributed to our strategy of focus and sustainable growth,” he added.