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    Kroger's Profits Up in First Quarter

    CINCINNATI - Kroger Co., the No. 1 U.S. grocery chain, said today that its first-quarter profit increased 19 percent, driven by cost-savings from its restructuring designed to compete with Wal-Mart and other discounters.

    CINCINNATI - Kroger Co., the No. 1 U.S. grocery chain, said today that its first-quarter profit increased 19 percent, driven by cost-savings from its restructuring designed to compete with Wal-Mart and other discounters.

    Kroger said net income in the quarter, ended May 25, was $361.9 million, or 45 cents a share, versus $303.4 million in the same period last year.

    Kroger said sales in the latest quarter rose 3.7 percent to $15.7 billion. Identical food store sales, including fuel, increased 0.6 percent. Identical food-store sales excluding fuel were slightly positive. Comparable food store sales, which include relocations and expansions, rose 1.3 percent for the quarter. Comparable food store sales excluding fuel rose 0.6 percent.

    "The implementation of Kroger's Strategic Growth Plan is moving forward as expected, and we are pleased with the initial results," said Joseph A. Pichler, chairman and CEO. In December, Cincinnati-based Kroger unveiled the restructuring plan intended to reduce costs by $500 million, in part by eliminating 1,500 jobs.

    The restructuring, which has been accompanied by price cuts and efforts to sharpen marketing, mirrors similar initiatives by its rivals, such as Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's.

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