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    Sobeys Posts Higher Earnings, Solid Comps for Q3

    STELLARTON, N.S. -- Buoyed by better in-store execution, Sobeys, Inc., based here, yesterday reported sales for the third quarter of $3.17 billion, vs. $2.92 billion for the same quarter last year, a rise of $254.9 million, or 8.7 percent. Same-store sales grew 4.1 percent in the quarter.

    STELLARTON, N.S. -- Buoyed by better in-store execution, Sobeys, Inc., based here, yesterday reported sales for the third quarter of $3.17 billion, vs. $2.92 billion for the same quarter last year, a rise of $254.9 million, or 8.7 percent. Same-store sales grew 4.1 percent in the quarter.

    The chain said quarterly basic net earnings per share were 71 cents, or $45.7 million, for its third quarter ended Feb. 4, an increase of 2.9 percent compared with the 69 cents, or $44.8 million, it reported in the year-ago period.

    "Our steadfast focus on food and improved execution drove strong same-store sales again this quarter," said president and c.e.o. Bill McEwan in a statement. "In addition, our ongoing productivity initiatives and our extensive Ontario business process, supply chain, and systems transformation initiative remains right on track."

    Sobeys further noted that it "will continue to focus on disciplined cost management initiatives, supply chain, and retail productivity improvements and migration of best practices across its four regions to continue to fuel and fund investments to drive sales and improve margins over time."

    Also during the quarter, it opened or replaced 25 corporate and franchised stores. compared with 11 corporate and franchised stores during the third quarter of last year. The chain expanded seven stores during the quarter, vs. five stores last year. Twenty stores were closed during the third quarter of fiscal 2006, as opposed seven in the year-ago period. Net retail store square footage rose during the quarter by 322,839 square feet (558,954 square feet opened, less 236,115 square feet closed). As of the close of the quarter, Sobeys' square footage amounted to 25.3 million square feet -- a 3.7 percent increase over last year's third quarter. The company said it "remains committed to improving and growing its store network."

    Additionally, the company's board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of 14 cents per share on Sobeys common shares, which will be payable April 28 to shareholders of record as of April 13.

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