Loblaw expects food business to grow despite decline in prices
TORONTO — Canada’s largest grocery business delivered stronger than expected results in the final quarter of last year and anticipates its food business will grow despite a decline in prices.
Loblaw Companies Ltd. reported a $201million net profit or 50 cents per common share in its fourth quarter of 2016 — up 57 per cent from the year before — partly due to operational improvements and special items in both years. The company lowered prices during the quarter, mostly for produce, meat and baked goods, Galen G. Weston, chair and CEO, said during a conference call.
“Customers are responding to those lower prices,” he said, adding it’s premature to say whether that trend will continue.
The Brampton-based company will continue expanding its Click & Collect program, which is at 100 locations and allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up at the store. He also said home delivery is a possibility in the future.
There are few options for grocery home delivery in Canada. Some companies, like Grocery Gateway, which partners with Longo’s in the Toronto area, deliver boxes of groceries to the doorsteps of customers. IGA, Thrifty Foods and Costco also offer some delivery services.
But it’s not a move shoppers should expect soon, Weston said, adding that Loblaw customers appear to prefer picking up groceries on their schedule instead of waiting at home at a designated delivery time.
Revenue for the quarter was $11.13 billion, up $265 million.
On an adjusted basis, Loblaw earned 97 cents per share in quarter, up from 87 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Loblaw’s revenue was above analyst estimates of $10.98 billion and adjusted earnings were in line with estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
In the fourth quarter of 2015, Loblaw had $10.87 billion of revenue and $128 million of net profit, or 31 cents per share.
The food retail segment, excluding revenue from gasoline sales, saw same-store sales at Loblaw rise 1.1 per cent and same-store sales at Shoppers up 3.4 per cent — reflecting sales growth at locations open at least a year.