* To close 50 underperforming stores
* Raises quarterly dividend by 1 Canadian cent
(Adds details from the statement, share close)
June 26 Empire Co Ltd, the operator of
Canadian grocery chain Sobeys Inc, reported a lower
quarterly profit and said it would close 50 underperforming
Empire said 60 percent of the closures would be in Western
Canada and it expects cost savings to result in an improvement
in net earnings.
The company said sales would decline by about C$400 million
($370 million) but did not provide further details.
Empire bought the Canadian arm of Safeway Inc for
$5.7 billion to double its reach in the Western provinces and
help it compete with U.S. retail giants such as Wal-Mart Stores
Inc and Target Corp
The company said on Thursday store closures represent 3.8
percent of the total retail network gross square footage. Empire
had more than 1,500 stores as of June 2013, before it bought
Fourth-quarter sales rose about 40 percent to C$5.94
billion, which included C$1.59 billion from Safeway stores.
Net earnings fell to C$800,000, or 1 Canadian cent per
share, in the fourth quarter ended May 3, from C$105.9 million,
or C$1.56 per share, a year earlier.
Excluding costs of C$169.8 million related to the store
closures, Empire earned C$1.42 per share.
The company also raised its quarterly dividend to 27
Canadian cents per share from 26 Canadian cents.
Empire's shares closed at C$67.10 on the Toronto Stock
Exchange on Wednesday.
($1 = 1.0853 Canadian Dollars)
(Reporting By Sneha Banerjee in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj
Kalluvila and Don Sebastian)