MONTREAL (FNS) -- Metro-Richelieu continues to chip away at the competition in the Quebec grocery market, recording sales growth of 6.8% for its fiscal year ended Sept. 26. Sales for the year climbed to $2.37 billion ($3.65 billion Canadian) from $2.22 billion, while fourth quarter sales increased by 8.5% to $561.6 million from $517.7 million. Profit for the year was $42.5 million versus $43 million.
The results include a previously announced pretax charge of $15.6 million to settle a labor dispute between the company and its truck drivers. Most of the charge was recorded in the fourth quarter which reduced Metro-Richelieu's profit to $4.7 million in the quarter from $10.1 million, the company said.
Serge Gadbois, the company's senior vice president of finance, estimated that Metro-Richelieu's share of the Quebec grocery market is now 35%, up 1% from a year ago and equal with that of Provigo, which is a takeover target of Loblaw Cos. of Toronto. He said food-service sector sales increased 18% from a year ago due to a number of new customers in the hotel and restaurant sector.
Analyst Peter Norris of Dlouhy Investments here said Metro-Richelieu was picking up sales at the expense of Provigo which had flat sales for the first six months ended Aug. 15 as well as from Oshawa Group's IGA stores.