LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) - Aviva posted a 16% rise in general insurance gross written premiums to 2.7 billion pounds ($3.44 billion) in the first quarter, helped by strong performance in Britain.

Life and general insurer Aviva, which has its main operations in Britain, Canada and Ireland, said on Thursday it also saw a 13% rise in retirement sales, driven by higher volumes in bulk purchase annuities - insurance for corporate pension schemes.

Aviva said it remained confident in meeting its group targets, including operating profit of 2 billion pounds by 2026.

($1 = 0.7859 pounds) (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn, editing by Sinead Cruise)