Grocery giants Kroger and Publix Super Markets have reported a set of solid results for their fiscal fourth quarters, helped by continued consumer loyalty.
Kroger, the largest grocer in the US, reported a loss of $306.9m (54 cents per share) for the quarter ending 28 January, compared with a profit of $278.8m (44 cents per share) last year. However, excluding costs related to the consolidating its pension plans, it reported better-than-expected earnings of 50 cents a share for the quarter.
Group sales were up 7.7% to US$21.4bn, while like-for-like sales were up 4.9% (+5% excl fuel), which Kroger partly attributed to its loyalty programmes. The group said total number of households shopping at its outlets, as well the number of ‘loyal customers’, rose during the quarter (without providing specific figures). Own label sales accounted for 27% of all grocery sales during the three months.
For 2012, Kroger said it expects net profits to grow on an underlying basis, adding: “All of the data we are seeing suggests the overall economy and customer sentiment are improving. Both give us reason to be optimistic”.
Meanwhile, the employee-owned Publix chain saw its fourth-quarter net profit jump up 16.8% to $399.5m, while sales grew by 13.4% to $7.2bn. Publix said an extra week helped boost sales by 7.6%; like-for-like sales were up 5.3%. For the full year, net profit was up 11.5% to $1.5bn and sales grew by 7.3% to $27bn.
Publix opened just 29 new stores last year, but it said the results were helped by a decision to focus on its existing operations. The chain revamped more than 100 outlets in 2011, including breaking down and rebuilding some older outlets.
NamNews - Friday 2nd March 2012