Metro profit jumps 8.6% on higher food and pharmaceutical sales and lower COVID-19 costs

Grocery store owner Metro Inc.’s profits rose 8.6% in the first quarter as food and pharmaceutical sales remained strong and costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic declined .

The Montreal retailer reported net income of $207.7 million, or 85 cents per share in the 12 weeks ended December 18, 2021, compared to $191.2 million or 76 cents per share in the same period l ‘last year.

Supply chain issues and rising food prices are affecting grocery shoppers across the country. Metro reported food basket inflation of 3.5% in the first quarter.

“Our industry is facing higher than normal inflationary pressures and our teams are working hard to deliver the best possible value to our customers,” Chief Executive Eric La Flèche said in a statement Tuesday.

Metro increased its dividend paid to shareholders by 10% over the same period last year, to 27.5 cents per share.

At the company’s grocery stores, which include Metro, Food Basics and Super C, sales fell somewhat from a record year last year. Same-store grocery store sales, an important industry measure that tracks store growth unaffected by new store openings, were down 1.4% in the quarter and up 8.5% from in the same quarter two years ago. Same-store sales of pharmacies including the Jean-Coutu chain increased by 7.7%, an improvement over last year when sales were affected by a labor dispute at the Jean-Coutu distribution center. The company said more people visited doctors this year compared to last year, leading to higher sales of prescription drugs, while sales of over-the-counter products such as coughs and colds have also improved.

Metro said sales rose 0.9% to $4.3 billion in the first quarter. The company expects restaurant closures and work-from-home orders to help relatively flat grocery sales in the near term. Pharmacy sales are expected to increase as Metro-owned stores have started selling rapid tests for COVID-19 and the sale of non-essential goods is no longer restricted as it was in Quebec at the same time. last year.

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