Sobeys Reports Higher First-quarter Earnings

STELLARTON, Nova Scotia - Canadian retailer Sobeys Inc. on Tuesday reported record quarterly net earnings of $45.9 million or 70 cents per share for its first quarter fiscal 2003. The gain in the three months ended Aug. 3, 2002 is a 38 percent increase compared to net earnings of $33.3 million or 51 cents per share in the first quarter last year.

The chain posted sales of $2.64 billion, up $193 million or 7.9 percent compared to the year-ago period. Same-store sales increased 4.5 percent, including expanded stores.

EBITDA grew 24 percent, while EBITDA margin grew 58 basis points.

"We are pleased with our first quarter results. Our solid sales and earnings growth was achieved through significant improvements in our regional marketing and merchandising programs and steady progress on all our planned cost management initiatives," said Bill McEwan, president and CEO. "Our momentum will continue to be fueled by disciplined execution of our capital spending activities and other store network improvements already in progress."

During the first quarter, 11 new or replacement grocery stores were opened, resulting in 343,413 of new square footage constructed. An additional four stores were expanded and another 32 stores were renovated or rebannered. Eight stores were closed during the quarter.

Sobeys Inc., headquartered in Stellarton, Nova Scotia, is one of Canada's two national retail grocery and food distributors. The company operates more than 1,300 corporate and franchise stores in all 10 provinces under retail banners that include Sobeys, Garden Market IGA, IGA, IGA extra, and Price Chopper.
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