May 1, 2013 / 10:54 AM / 4 years ago

Loblaw profit rises, REIT IPO planned for July

(Reuters) - Loblaw Cos Ltd (L.TO), Canada’s largest food retailer, reported a 40 percent rise in first-quarter profit and said it plans to compete the initial public offering of its real estate investment trust (REIT) in early to mid-July.

The company, majority-owned by George Weston Ltd (WN.TO), said profit rose to C$171 million ($170 million), or 61 Canadian cents per basic share, from C$122 million, or 43 Canadian cents per basic share, a year earlier.

The results included a gain of 13 Canadian cents per share related to defined benefit plan amendments, the company said.

Total sales rose about 3 percent to C$7.04 billion, while sales at established locations, a key measure for retailers, rose 2.8 percent.

“Greater assortment and an improved in-store experience are resonating with customers, translating into same-store sales growth and positive trends in tonnage and market share,” Executive Chairman Galen Weston said in a statement on Wednesday.

The company said in December it planned to contribute about 35 million square feet of property worth about C$7 billion to the REIT, which will allow Loblaw to reinvest in its core business and boost shareholder value.

The company, which is facing competition from U.S. discount retailer Target Corp’s (TGT.N) move into Canada, maintained its outlook for 2013.

Loblaw on Monday offered to compensate families of victims of a collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh that produced some of its Joe Fresh clothing line. The incident last week killed nearly 400 people.

Reporting by Bhaswati Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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