UPDATE 1-Empire Co profit rises on higher sales at Sobeys

Thu Dec 13, 2012 11:11am EST
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Dec 13 (Reuters) - Empire Co Ltd reported a higher second-quarter profit as sales at its Sobeys supermarket chain rose due to acquisitions.

Net earnings increased to C$93.3 million ($95 million), or C$1.37 per share, from C$78.1 million, or C$1.15 per share, a year earlier.

Total sales rose 9 percent to C$4.40 billion in the quarter ended Nov. 3.

Sales at established stores, a key measure for retailers, rose 1.3 percent at Sobeys, Canada's No. 2 grocer behind Loblaw Cos Ltd.

Sobeys' contribution to sales rose 11 percent to C$4.34 billion from C$3.98 billion. The growth was a result of the acquisition of 236 retail gas locations and related convenience store operations in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Canadian grocers are under pressure as Wal-Mart Stores Inc expands its food offerings in the country and will see even more competition when Target Corp kicks off its aggressive Canadian roll-out in the spring.

But Sobeys may be somewhat insulated, thanks to its contract to supply some of Target's groceries.

Empire shares were up about 3 percent at C$60.05 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.