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A&P reports sales for Q2, plans some adjustments for acquired Pathmark stores

BY Antoinette Alexander

MONTVALE, N.J. A&P acknowledged that its second quarter results were challenged by the acquired Pathmark stores but the grocer maintains that the integration is on track.

“Top line results and retail fundamentals were quite favorable in all formats with adjusted EBITDA ahead of prior year. However, even though Price Impact Pathmark stores experienced very strong top line performance with strong comp store sales and improved market share, overall earnings were below management expectations driven by a gross margin shortfall in that format. Most of this shortfall relates to Pathmark transition issues for which corrective actions have already been taken so that they do not occur again,” said Eric Claus, president and chief executive officer.

The company noted that the Pathmark integration is on track as it has realized about $25 million of synergies during the quarter, comprised of reduced administrative costs, reduced merchandise costs as well as reductions in store operating, marketing and advertising costs. At the end of the second quarter, the run rate of synergies was about $120 million or about 80 percent of the original target of $150 million.

Sales for the second quarter were $2.2 billion versus $1.3 billon last year. Same-store sales, which excludes sales for Pathmark acquired in December 2007, rose 2.8 percent. Pathmark’s same-store sales increased 2.9 percent.

Net loss from continuing operations was $3.6 million compared with a loss of $2.9 million in the year-ago period. Prior year?s results exclude the results of Pathmark prior to the date of acquisition.

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Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids targets R.J. Reynolds marketing of smoke-free products

BY Alaric DeArment

WASHINGTON Plans by R.J. Reynolds to test market three new smokeless tobacco products have drawn ire from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The three products, marketed under the Camel brand as Camel Strips, Sticks and Orbs, dissolve in the mouth and come in “fresh” and “mellow” flavors, RJR has advertised. RJR is testing them in Indianapolis, Columbus, Ohio, and Portland, Ore.

“RJR’s new products add to a growing list of novel products tobacco companies have introduced recently in their relentless efforts to recruit new youth users, create and sustain addiction to nicotine and discourage current users from quitting,” the campaign said in a statement. “The tobacco industry will continue to get away with these harmful practices until Congress ends the industry’s regulatory exemption and passes legislation granting the [Food and Drug Administration] authority over tobacco products.”

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Specialists testify that Pfizer tampered with study results for epilepsy drug

BY Alaric DeArment

NEW YORK Experts reviewing documents in a lawsuit against Pfizer said in federal court in Boston Monday that the company manipulated the publication of studies to influence sales of the epilepsy drug Neurontin (gabapentin).

The experts said Pfizer delayed publication of studies that cast doubt on the drug’s efficacy and used spin tactics to downplay negative data.

In a statement Tuesday, Pfizer denied manipulating the data, maintaining that the study results were objective, accurate, balanced and complete.

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