Metro announces new store openings and a move into online shopping

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

By Peter Diekmeyer

Eric La Flèche, CEO of grocery retailer Metro Inc., has announced a strategic plan designed to continue the company’s positive performance in an admittedly tough economic environment. Speaking Tuesday at Metro's annual general meeting, La Flèche said the company plans to:

• invest $300 million into its infrastructure this year

• open 10 new stores

• renovate up to 30 stores

Metro also plans to test an online offering later this year in the province of Quebec, with the test eventually extending into Ontario if all goes well. When asked about the online opportunity, La Flèche said, "I don't think there's a significant portion of food sales done online today but it's better to cannibalize [your own business] than to lose [a customer]."

Metro also plans to step up the sourcing of local products, which will create new opportunities for Canadian suppliers, particularly vendors of produce and meat products.

La Flèche said that, overall, “customer satisfaction is up, the number of transactions is up, and we gained market share. We are very happy with our results.”

Based on those solid results, Metro raised its dividend 20 per cent. Overall Q1 sales were up 4.3 per cent, and same-store sales increased by 2.8 per cent. First quarter profit grew 24.3 per cent to $139.8 million. 

The year's stellar performance comes shortly after the stock market research site, Seeking Alpha, said that Metro is the best-managed grocer in Canada, and second best in North America. This came on the heels of Les Affaires magazine naming La Flèche as a “CEO of the Year,” late last year.

Metro also got an indirect double boost this week when Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., in which Metro has a large stake, announced that Claude Tessier, an industry veteran and former president of Sobeys’ IGA Operations Business Unit, is joining Couche-Tard as its chief financial officer.

La Flèche replied, “no comment,” to questions as to whether the company would be making new acquisitions. He also labelled questions as to whether Metro’s strong stock performance and recognition south of the border would make it a takeover target, as “speculative.”

Worth Reading:

Metro reports strong sales and earnings

Uncovered: Metro Challenging Kroger For Title Of North America's Best Grocer

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