BUSINESS
06/26/2014 08:28 EDT | Updated 06/26/2014 08:59 EDT

Sobeys To Close Some 50 'Underperforming' Stores

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STELLARTON, N.S. -- Empire Co. Ltd. says it's closing about 50 underperforming Sobeys to improve its net earnings.

Nova Scotia-based Empire, which owns Sobeys, says about 60 per cent of the affected stores are in Western Canada.

Empire also says it's increasing its shareholder dividend to 27 cents, up 3.8 per cent, the 19th consecutive year of increase.

Its fourth-quarter adjusted net earnings from continuing operations of $131.3 million, or $1.42 per diluted share, compared with $95.7 million, or $1.40 per diluted share, in the same quarter of last year.

Sales were $5.94 billion, up $1.68 billion year-over-year, excluding the impact of the recent Canada Safeway acquisition.

Empire will take a restructuring charge related to the store closures of $169.8 million. Excluding such items, Empire had net earnings of $1.5 million, or two cents per diluted share, compared with $102.5 million, or $1.51 per diluted share, in the same quarter last year.

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