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Produce Resets Spark Q3 Earnings for Metro

MONTREAL — Remerchandised produce departments at Metro stores in Canada helped Metro Inc. here increase sales by 3.7% and net earnings by 13.6% during the fiscal third quarter, the company said Wednesday.

The company also cited cost controls, profit contributions from the newly acquired Marche Adonis and Phoenicia businesses and a 1% increase in same-store sales during the period, which ended June 30.

Metro is in the process of re-setting produce departments in its conventional and discount banners in Quebec and Ontario, helping the chain weather deflationary conditions in some produce categories, Eric LaFleche, Metro’s chief executive officer, said in a conference call Wednesday.

“The impact is very positive, we get instant positive lift in our customer satisfaction survey, as soon as we re-merchandise the produce section of our stores,” LaFleche said, adding that produce sales in stores that have been remerchandised were up in the mid-single digits despite deflationary pricing.

Read more: Metro Sales, Earnings Up in Q2

Total sales for the period, which ended June 30, totaled $3.7 billion (U.S.), $82 million of which came from Marche Adonis and Phoenicia. Net earnings totaled $145.5 million. EBITDA of $274 million was up 10.3% from the same period last year, and represented 7.3% of sales vs. 6.9% of sales last year.

Metro said inflation was “very moderate” during the period and less than the rate in the prior quarters.

Metro stock was trading up 2% Wednesday afternoon on the Toronto exchange.

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