Sobeys profit up from year ago, boosted by Canada Safeway acquisition

CEO Poulin says Sobeys continues to build a business based on the best practices of both companies

The parent of the Sobey's grocery chain earned $123.6 million in its latest quarter, a big increase from a year ago helped by its Canada Safeway acquisition.

Empire Co. Ltd. said Friday it earned $1.34 per share for the quarter ended Jan. 31 compared with a profit of $400,000 or zero cents per share in the same period a year ago.

Last year's, Sobey's results included a number of items that pulled down its results including costs related to the acquisition of Canada Safeway and its theatre business.

Adjusted earnings from continuing operations for the quarter totalled $120.3 million or $1.30 per share, up from $86.2 million or 94 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Overall revenue for Empire Co., mostly from Sobeys, dropped to $5.9 billion, from $6 billion a year ago.

The company said the decline was due largely to fewer stores in its network and partially because of the lower fuel prices.

Same-store sales for locations open at least a year grew 1.9% if fuel sales are included but 3.0% if they are excluded.

"Subsequent to the end of the quarter we achieved a critical milestone in the Safeway integration by moving Safeway onto our SAP platform,'' Empire president and chief executive Marc Poulin said in a statement.

"Going forward, we remain confident in our ability to achieve $200 million in annual run rate cost synergies and will be focused on securing operational efficiencies and cost reductions across the organization.''

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