Metro Inc. is on track to expand its growing ecommerce platform, implement more self-checkouts in-store and complete a supply chain modernization plan, says Eric La Flèche, president and chief operating officer of Metro Inc. during a conference call with analysts about its second quarter fiscal 2021 results.
Metro's second quarter fiscal 2021 food same-store sales grew 5.5 per cent and up 10.1 per cent in the first ten weeks of the quarter, while pharmacy same-store sales declined 0.8. percent. Overall sales increased 5.1 per cent to $4,193.0 million when compared to the same quarter in 2020 with sales of $3,988.9 million.
The first ten week increase of 10.1 per cent in same-store sales was due to “an unprecedented surge in sales” due to the pandemic. Online food sales surged 240 per cent over last year
"We delivered strong sales and earnings growth in our second quarter, says Eric La Flèche, president and chief executive officer.
“More than one year into the pandemic crisis, our teams continue to show extraordinary resilience to safely serve our communities while executing well on our strategic priorities of operational excellence, supply chain modernization and digital acceleration. Our affiliated pharmacists have begun to administer vaccines and we look forward to increasing the pace as soon as more vaccine supply becomes available in the coming weeks. As we are currently cycling the peak sales of the start of the pandemic last year, we are confident that our sales volume will remain elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels and we are well positioned to continue to deliver value to our customers and shareholders."
Food basket inflation was approximately 2.0 per cent (2.0% in 2020). Pharmacy same-store sales were down 0.8 per cent (up 7.9 per cent in 2020), with a 4.2 per cent increase in prescription drugs and a 10.5 per cent decrease in front-store sales. Metro says the decrease is due mainly to restrictions on sales of non-essential products in Quebec for a period of six weeks during the quarter, the milder cold and flu season, and the pandemic-related increase in sales experienced at the end of the second quarter last year.
Ecommerce, supply chain modernization expansion on track
La Flèche re-affirmed initiatives underway to support its growing online presence, which includes expansion of its click-and collect offerings, self-serve checkouts in discount and conventional banners and the modernization of its supply chain infrastructure.
“Our volume remains strong and we’re on track to have 170 click-and-collect offerings at stores, currently we have done about 45. Our partnership with Cornershop continues to be strong and have added an Adonis location and we’re expanding our online hub delivery to the Ottawa market with the opening of one hub and several click and collect stores.”
La Flèche adds that click and collect is "ramping up and it's not overwhelming demand, but it's a work in progress. The majority of our sales remain in our hubs and delivery with Cornershop. We're attracting new incremental business and getting a higher share of shoppers' wallets that are shopping online and in-store, but overall it's been incremental growth for online."
It is also expanding self-serve checkouts. Metro currently operates 260 such checkouts at both its discount and conventional banners and expects to expand the service to 95 more stores.
Metro’s supply chain modernization plans are also on track with the first semi-automated DC facility in Toronto already in operation and phase two expected to open in January 2022.
“Phase one is our DC fresh facility in Toronto and we’re transferring stores from the old facility next door to the new one and we’ll be done over the next month or so. Once we’ve have transferred all the stores to this new facility, we’ll demolish the old one to make room for phase two, a fully automated meat and dairy DC. We’re starting in produce and then we’ll have a fully automated frozen facility.”