08/15/2017 03:41 EDT | Updated 08/15/2017 04:00 EDT

Metro CEO: grocery industry will be pressured by Ontario minimum wage hike

MONTREAL — The CEO of Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU) says the grocery industry is facing "significant pressure" from the Ontario government's plan to raise the province's minimum wages next year.

Eric R. La Fleche says the Montreal-based company will be exercising "strong control" over its operating expenses while striving to continue on a growth path — but didn't say what measures it will take.

His comments were contained in Metro's financial report for the 16 weeks ended July 1 and follow similar warnings by other retailers and a coalition representing a broad range of business groups.

Metro estimates the higher Ontario minimum wage will cost it approximately $45 million to $50 million on an annualized basis in 2018.

Metro's net income was up 3.7 per cent or $4.5 million from the comparable period in last year's fiscal third quarter, at $183 million or 78 cents per share.

Its overall sales edged up 1.4 per cent or $58.7 million to $4.07 billion but same-store sales were down 0.2 per cent.