Metro Inc. saw sales grow more than 15 per cent in its first full quarter since acquiring the Jean Coutu Group pharmacy chain.
“The Jean Coutu integration plan is on track,” said CEO Eric La Fleche during a conference call with analysts Wednesday.
The grocery retailer acquired the pharmacy operator in May, 2018, for about $4.5-billion.
The acquisition helped boost Metro’s sales by 15.7 per cent to $3.74-billion for its fourth quarter, a 12-week period ending Sept. 29, compared to the same quarter the previous year, which lasted 13 weeks.
Sales rose 2.5 per cent excluding Jean Coutu and the extra week. Food same-store sales, a key retail metric, increased 2.1 per cent, while pharmacy same-store sales advanced 1.8 per cent.
Jean Coutu pharmacies have started to carry some of Metro’s private-label Selection and Irresistibles products, Mr. La Fleche said.
Metro grocery stores will soon stock some of Jean Coutu’s private label personal care and beauty line, he said.
“I think we have some time ahead of us to realize the full potential of this combination,” Mr. La Fleche said.
The company is also doing some tests with offering fresh food at Jean Coutu and sees an opportunity to one day sell meal kits at its drugstores.
“It positions us better than ever to service, especially Quebec customers, for their everyday needs,” he said, adding hopefully they’ll shop at Metro’s stores daily for food, as well as health and beauty needs.
The company earned $145-million in the quarter, amounting to 56 cents per diluted share. That’s compared with a profit of $154.9-million or 66 cents per diluted share in the same quarter last year.
On an adjusted basis, Metro says it earned $161-million or 63 cents per share in the quarter, up from $131.1-million or 56 cents per share a year ago.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 63 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
For the full year, the company’s net earnings surged to $1.72-billion on $14.4-billion in revenues, up from $608.4-million on $13.2-billion in revenues in 2017. Adjusted profits grew 10.5 per cent to $605.9-million or $2.52 per diluted share, compared with $548.2-million or $2.31 per share a year earlier.
Metro’s shares rose $1.72 or four per cent at $44.54 in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.