* Q4 earnings per unit up 2.6 pct at C$0.40
* Sales up 18.1 pct to C$375.7 mln
* Food sales jump 22 pct
* Declares C$0.32 quarterly distribution
* Sees 2009 capex in C$50 mln range
March 19 (Reuters) - Canadian food products retailer North West Company Fund NWF_u.TO posted a 4 percent rise in quarterly profit as food sales rose and acquisitions boosted international operations.
For the fourth quarter, the company's net earnings rose to C$19.6 million ($15.90 million) from C$18.9 million a year earlier.
Sales jumped 18 percent to C$375.7 million, but dropped 2.8 percent on a same-store basis excluding the foreign exchange impact, said the company, which operates 221 stores under the brand names Northern, NorthMart, Giant Tiger, AC Value Center and Cost-U-Less.
International sales surged 48 percent to $114.5 million, partly helped by the company's acquisition of Cost-U-Less Inc in December 2007. However, sales from Canadian operations fell 1 percent to C$235.7 million.
"Food sales and margin performance should continue to provide a solid, defensive base for the Fund in 2009," the company said in a statement.
Shares of the company were down 4 Canadian cents at C$15.66 in afternoon trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
$1=1.233 Canadian Dollar Reporting by R. Manikandan in Bangalore; Editing by Deepak Kannan