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    Metro's Q2 Profits Shrink

    The Canadian grocer blamed the competitive climate in Ontario.

    Canadian grocer Metro, Inc. yesterday reported net earnings of CAN $58.1 million (US $57.1 million)for the second quarter of 2008, a decline of 6 percent compared to profits of CAN $61.8 million (US $60.7 million) in the year-ago period.

    The chain reported net earnings per share of 51 cents for the quarter vs. 53 cents last year, a 3.8 percent decrease.

    Meanwhile, the company's sales during the quarter were CAN $2,372.4 million (US $2,330.8 million), a 0.7 percent increase over the $2,356.2 million (US $2,310.9 million) Metro posted in the second quarter of 2007.

    Same-store sales were up 0.3 percent in the second quarter.

    Sales for the first 24 weeks of 2008 came to CAN $4,879.2 million (US $4,794.2 million), an increase 0.2 percent over the CAN $4,871.2 million (US $4,786.3 million) reported the prior year.

    Net earnings for the first 24 weeks of 2008 were CAN $127.8 million (US $125.6 million), vs. CAN $129.7 million last year (US $127.5 million), a 1.5 percent decline.

    Attributing the mixed results to "the competitive environment that still prevails in Ontario," Metro said its performance was still an improvement over 2008's first quarter.

    "The progress realized in working with our new Ontario information systems and the integration of our Quebec Food Services operations will enable us to focus, over the next months, on improving our results," said Eric R. La Fleche, who became president and c.e.o. of the Montreal-based company yesterday, as well as a member of the board of directors, Former president and c.e.o. Pierre H. Lessard became executive chairman of the board.

    During the first 24 weeks of 2008, Metro invested CAN $101.3 million (US $99.6 million) in its retail network, for a net expansion of 173,000 square feet, or 0.9 percent. The company completed major renovations and expansions of 15 stores, and opened six new locations.

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