Grocer Metro Inc. reports fourth-quarter profit up from year ago, sales higher

Grocer Metro Inc. reports fourth-quarter profit up from year ago, sales higher

MONTREAL — Metro Inc. is looking to expand its online grocery offerings to Ontario next year as the food retailing industry ramps up e-commerce options for shoppers.

The company already offers “click and collect” in seven stores and home delivery service in Greater Montreal, Quebec City and Gatineau, Que., covering 60 per cent of the population of Quebec, Metro CEO Eric La Fleche said Wednesday.

“We are pleased with the way we have set it up so far and we’re going to start the same way in Ontario,” La Fleche said on a conference call to discuss the company’s latest financial results.

“It is still small in relative terms for the company, obviously, but it is certainly showing good growth,” he said of the e-commerce business.

La Fleche said the plan is to launch its online grocery business in the Ontario market late in the company’s 2018 financial year, which began Oct. 1, or early in its 2019 financial year.

The comments by Metro came after it reported a fourth-quarter profit of $154.9 million or 66 cents per diluted share, up from $145.0 million or 60 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Sales in the quarter ended Sept. 30, which included an extra week compared with a year ago, totalled $3.23 billion, up from $2.93 billion, while same store sales gained 0.4 per cent.

Excluding the extra week and $2.5 million before taxes related to its acquisition of Quebec-based pharmacy chain Jean Coutu Group Inc. and the modernization of its distribution network in Toronto, Metro says its earnings would have been similar to last year, while diluted net earnings per share would have been up 1.7 per cent.

Metro (TSX:MRU) announced a friendly deal last month to acquire Jean Coutu Group in a $4.5-billion takeover offer.

The combined company will have more than 1,300 stores in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick and about $16 billion in annual revenues.

The Canadian Press

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