TORONTO -- After testing a closed on-line shopping site for the past few months, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. isn't convinced about the advantages of the e-grocery business.
"The present status is that we continue to be only moderately impressed by the potential size and profitability of a home delivery model for foods here in Canada, but we are nevertheless continuing to develop our test model," company chairman Galen Weston said at the company's annual meeting here. He felt there might be more e-commerce opportunities behind the scenes with suppliers.
"I sincerely believe by this time next year, we will be reporting on a much more clearly defined set of initiatives, many of which will require investment dollars."
Loblaw is considering the possibility of raising money by creating a separate publicly traded e-commerce division. Another alternative being looked at is to have customers order groceries on-line and pick them up at a Loblaw store close by or at a central warehouse.
The company will also be testing cashierless checkout counters at two of its stores in the fall. If successful, the concept will be rolled out across Canada over the next two years.
In addition, Canada's largest grocery chain has no immediate plans of removing genetically modified foods from its stores, saying it is too costly. But Weston said the company could one day carry its own line of GM-free foods under its popular President's Choice label.
Loblaw also released its first quarter results for the period ended March 25, which saw its profit increase 24% to $51.4 million (Cdn. $77 million) or 19 cents a share from $42 million or 15 cents. Sales rose to $2.89 billion from $2.81 billion.