ETOBICOKE, Ontario -- Oshawa Group here said improved results in its Central and Western regions and greater companywide efficiencies boosted sales and earnings for the first quarter ended April 22. Net income for the 12-week quarter rose 19.1% to $7.8 million (U.S.), while sales rose 2.6% to $1 billion (U.S.). The figures were converted at a rate of $1 U.S. equals $1.36 Canadian.
y and improve customer value," he said, "including the competitive repositioning of retail wage rates in the food segment and the companywide expansion of control label programs. "In addition, extension of various Efficient Consumer Response programs is under way, aided by major investment in technology systems and new storage and distribution logistics in the Central region. Increasing benefits resulting from these initiatives, as well as those scheduled for introduction, are expected to provide further gains as the year progresses." Graham said gross profit levels improved throughout the company's food segment, including its Serca food-service division. However, the legislated elimination of tobacco sales in Ontario drug stores and increased price competition from mass merchants lowered results at its Pharma Plus drug stores, he noted. Marilyn Brophy, a Montreal-based securities analyst with Levesque Beaubien Geoffrion, Toronto, said Oshawa's food operations in central and western Canada are coming off weak comparisons resulting from intense competitive activity there a year ago. "Last year's numbers were depressed, but all operators there have been reporting improved numbers," Brophy said. Oshawa is also concentrating on store renovations across Canada, she said, including converting a handful of IGA stores to a new fresh-oriented format called Garden Markets.