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    A&P Quarterly Loss Tops $3 Per Share

    MONTVALE, N.J., Oct 18 - The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. reported a net loss of $144.7 million, or $3.76 a share, in the most recent quarter compared with a net loss of only $1.7 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier.

    MONTVALE, N.J., Oct 18 - The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. reported a net loss of $144.7 million, or $3.76 a share, in the most recent quarter compared with a net loss of only $1.7 million, or 5 cents a share, a year earlier. Quarterly sales fell to $2.50 billion from $2.55 billion.

    A&P executives reported this morning that the company's gross margins eroded in the fiscal second quarter ended Sept. 7 as fierce competition forced it to spend heavily on promotions to protect its market share. According to a Reuters report, the retailers said the sagging U.S. economy drove shoppers to buy cheaper food.

    A&P operates supermarkets under 11 banners, including Waldbaum's, The Food Emporium, Dominion, Farmer Jack, and Super Fresh.

    "Our second-quarter results were affected by the continued deterioration of the economy, which drove consumer confidence to the lowest levels in recent history," said A&P chairman Christian Haub in a statement. "With shoppers trading down, competitors responded with aggressive pricing and promotional tactics."

    The statement added that the company will continue "aggressively reducing cost" and improving supply chain efficiencies in anticipation of continuing hard times.

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