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    Loblaw Parent George Weston Profits Up

    TORONTO -- Profits at George Weston Ltd. here rose 16.6 percent for the third quarter, despite supply chain disruptions at its main division, supermarket chain Loblaw Cos.

    TORONTO -- Profits at George Weston Ltd. here rose 16.6 percent for the third quarter, despite supply chain disruptions at its main division, supermarket chain Loblaw Cos.

    Weston yesterday said it earned C$196 million (US$167.1 million), or C$1.41 (US$1.20) per share, for the quarter ended October 8, compared to C$168 million (US$143.2million), or C$1.24 (US$1.05) a share, in the third quarter last year. This is after the company took a hit of 20 Canadian cents (US 17 cents) a share due to a variety of charges, including a C$20 million (US$17million) charge for supply chain problems at Loblaw, Canada's biggest supermarket chain.

    Sales grew 5.2 percent to C$9.7 billion (US$8.27) from C$9.3 billion (US$7.9 billion), boosted by the consolidation of results from some Loblaw independent franchisees. The supply disruptions reduced expected sales growth by 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent, the company said.

    Loblaw sales for the quarter rose 6.4 percent to $8.7 billion, (US$7.42 billion) while same-store sales were flat. Its operating margin was 4.4 percent, compared with 5.6 percent last year.

    "Margins continue to improve toward historic levels," said chairman Galen Weston during a call with analysts. "In Canada, our brands continue to be well received by consumers and are gaining (market) share."

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