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    Safeway’s Sales, Comps Up in Q1

    ‘We are working diligently to close the merger with Albertsons’: CEO

    Safeway posted net sales of $8.3 billion in the first quarter of 2014, up 1 percent from the $8.2 billion from the year-ago period.

    The company attributed its Q1 gains to a 1.8 percent increase in identical-stores sales, excluding fuel, consisting of a 1 percent increase in price per item and a 0.8 percent increase in volume.

    Safeway’s operating income netted $12.8 million in Q1 of 2014, or $0.06 per diluted share, compared with $37.5 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, from the year-ago.

    On March 6, Safeway and Albertsons unveiled a merger agreement under which AB Acquisition LLC will acquire all outstanding shares of the Pleasanton, Calif.-based grocer.

    "We are working diligently to close the merger with Albertsons by the fourth quarter," said Robert Edwards, president and CEO. "While sales met plan in the first quarter, income was slightly below plan, in part as a result of inflation in produce, meat and pharmacy that was not fully passed along for competitive reasons.”

    "We continue to drive sales momentum through our center of store remodels, as well as merchandising premium, Hispanic and Asian products to meet local demographic needs," Edwards added. "In addition, our sales of organic and natural products continue to grow at a rapid pace, with our private label brands O Organics and Open Nature growing approximately two times faster than the rest of the market."

    Safeway Inc. operates Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb and Carrs stores, and is one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States.

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