Loblaw Reports Profit Jump, Plans New Super-stores

MONTREAL - Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Canada's largest grocery chain, on Thursday reported a 16 percent rise in third-quarter profit, and said it planned to sell more non-food items as it moved ahead with expansion plans, Reuters reports.

The company plans to build new super-stores of up to 145,000 square feet to compete with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sobeys Inc. and Metro Inc.

"We are moving ahead with super-stores in Ontario. Five such stores will open by the end of this year," Geoff Wilson, a Loblaw v.p., told Reuters. "We are going to sell new food products but also more (President's Choice house brand) home items," he said.

During the latest quarter, Loblaw opened 14 new corporate and franchise stores and closed 18.

Wilson said the chain is looking to expand by adding larger outlets, rather than through acquisitions, but added: "We will take a look if any company comes up."

Loblaw said it earned C$218 million ($164 million), or 79 Canadian cents a share in the quarter, up from net earnings of C$188 million, or 68 Canadian cents a share a year earlier. Revenue rose 7 percent to C$7.7 billion from C$7.2 billion, with 4.3 percent growth in same-store sales.

Loblaw, which is owned by food processor and distributor George Weston Ltd., operates the Provigo and Loblaws supermarket chains.
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