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Empire Company Ltd. reported adjusted net earnings of $133.9 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2020.

That’s up 33.7 per cent compared with the $100.2 million reported for the same quarter of fiscal 2019. Gross profit increased 9.8 per cent, driven mostly by a 4.4 per cent increase in sales, as well as inclusion of Farm Boy results and benefits from the category reset. The increase was slightly offset by store closures in Western Canada. Same-store sales excluding fuel increased by 2.4 per cent, compared with 1.3 per cent for Q1 fiscal 2019

Food retailing figures:

  • Sales rose to $6.744 billion, up $283.8 million from Q1 fiscal 2019
  • Gross profit was $1.660 billion, $148.1 million ahead of the same quarter last year
  • Adjusted net earnings were $125.5 million, up $40.2 million from Q1 2019

Nearly two years into its plan to convert up to one quarter of its 255 Safeway and Sobeys full service stores in Western Canada to the FreshCo discount format, Empire says 22 FreshCo locations have been confirmed so far. Seven are up and running in B.C. and Manitoba, 11 are expected to open in B.C. in fiscal 2020, and four more in Saskatchewan in fiscal 2021.

Empire expects its Project Sunrise corporate transformation to yield benefits of at least $250 million in fiscal 2020, the third year of the three-year project. The benefits are expected to result from completion of the rollout of the category reset program, and continued cost reductions and operational improvements. The cumulative total benefit for all three years of Project Sunrise is expected to reach at least $550 million, an increase over original projections.

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