MONTREAL — Metro here said sales and profit growth in its fiscal fourth quarter outpaced the year overall, buoyed by Metro’s investment last year in Marché Adonis, an ethnic food retailer.
Net income in the fourth quarter, which included an extra week, was up 75.9%, to $145.1 million. For the full year — also including an extra week — net income was up 27.7%, to $489.3 million.
Sales in the 13-week quarter, which ended Sept. 29, totaled about $2.94 billion (U.S.), up 11.1% over the 12-week period a year ago. Excluding the extra week, sales were up 3.4%. Same-store sales rose 1.1%.
“We had positive same-store sales growth. We’re pleased with that in a virtually nil inflation environment,” said Eric La Fleche, president and chief executive officer, Metro, in a conference call discussing the results.
The same-store sales gains were “mostly driven by basket increases,” he said, describing traffic as “about flat.”
He said promotional activity is continuing apace in Eastern Canada.
“The competitive environment in Q4 was very similar to what we saw in previous quarters,” said La Fleche. “That is rational pricing with continued aggressive promotional activity as consumers remain prudent and are searching evermore for the best value.”
For the 53-week fiscal year, sales of $12 billion were up 5.4% over the 52-week period of the preceding year, and rose 2.5% excluding the extra week.
Metro recently opened a new, 55,000-square foot Adonis store in Laval, Quebec, near Montreal, and plans to expand the Mediterranean food retailer to Ontario in the spring with a store in Mississauga. Metro acquired a 55% interest in the then-three-store banner and its supplier, Phoenicia Products, last October.
In addition, Metro is continuing the rollout of an upgraded perishables offering at its traditional stores and is “pleased with the results so far.”
“In Ontario, we have completed the remerchandising of our produce in our Metro stores with good sales and tonnage growth,” said La Fleche. “In Quebec, close to 100 Metro stores have seen their produce department remerchandised, and an additional 30 stores are planned for this fiscal year.”
He said the company is also seeking to upgrade the produce offering at its discount banners, and had revamped the departments in about of its Super C locations and 20% of its Food Basics stores.
Read more: Metro Acquires Ethnic Retailer
During fiscal 2012, the company and its licensee operators invested $282 million in the retail network, opening seven new stores and executing major renovations and expansions in 19 stores. It also closed 11 stores.
It projected capital expenditures of about $250 million for the current fiscal year and a 1.5% increase in square footage.
In addition, Metro said the construction of its new produce and dairy distribution center in Laval is on schedule and on budget. The center, projected to open next spring, will improve productivity, La Fleche said.
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