Empire Company Limited reported same-store sales growth of 10.7 per cent with e-commerce sales spiking 315 per cent in its third quarter fiscal 2021.
"Our improvements in market share and gross margin send a strong message – the underlying strength we've built at Empire and the team's discipline executing Project Horizon is bearing further fruit," says Michael Medline, president & CEO, Empire. "The tremendous progress we've made in advanced analytics will help drive our compelling customer value proposition. Our operational and merchandising execution is leaps and bounds ahead of where it was four years ago. I attribute our success to our focus and discipline to execute against our strategy, while living our values."
Empire recorded earnings of $176.3 million in the quarter compared to $120.5 million in the same quarter last year.
The company says it expects to see growth in market share through further investments in its store network, improving store productivity, scaling up e-commerce, expanding its private label portfolio, continuing its Western Canada discount business expansion and increasing the Farm Boy footprint in Ontario.
Empire invested $207.1 million in capital expenditures for the quarter ended January 30, 2021 (2020 – $106.4 million) including renovations, construction of new stores, construction of an e-commerce fulfilment centre and construction of FreshCo locations in Western Canada. In fiscal 2021, capital spending is expected to be between $650 million and $675 million with approximately half of this investment allocated to renovations and new stores.
The acquisition of Farm Boy on December 10, 2018 added 26 locations to the store network throughout Ontario with plans to double the store count in five years from the acquisition date, mainly in the Greater Toronto Area. During the quarter, the company opened three locations, net of one closure, and says it is on track to open eight new stores in fiscal 2021, bringing the total store count to 38, including one relocation. Empire has. now confirmed 42 Farm Boy locations in Ontario: 36 stores currently open and six more to open in 2021, net of one closure.
Sobeys announced plans in fiscal 2018 to expand its discount format to Western Canada. It now has confirmed 37 of 65 locations in the region and is on track to open 10 to 15 FreshCo stores in fiscal 2021. Five stores are expected to open in the remainder of fiscal 2021: three in Manitoba and two in Alberta. In fiscal 2022, it plans to open an additional nine FreshCo stores: seven in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan and one in Northern Ontario.
Voilà by Sobeys online grocery delivery continues is expansion and its Vaughan, Ont. CFC recently extended its service to include Barrie, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph. And the service is on track to expand into Eastern Canada with its second CFC in Montreal. And Empire says it’s accelerating plans for the two remaining Voilà e-commerce CFCs. A third in Calgary, Alta. will be in operation in the first half of calendar 2023.