CINCINNATI -- Kroger Co. here, while releasing its year-end results last week, said it has not yet set a date for a shareholders meeting to consider the merger with Fred Meyer Inc., Portland, Ore.
al square footage this year by 4.5% to 5% by completing 90 to 100 store projects. It said it increased total square footage in 1998 by 4.25%, opening, expanding, relocating or acquiring 96 food stores.
The company said 1998 was a 53-week fiscal year, compared with 52 weeks in 1997.
Sales for the year rose 6.2% to $28.2 billion; the company did not release a comparable-store sales figure for the year. Net income, including an extraordinary item of $39.1 million from early retirement of debt and excluding a variety of one-time charges, rose 21.1% to $498.8 million.
For the 13-week quarter, sales were up 12.9% to $7.3 billion, while comparable-store sales rose 2.5%. Net income, including the extraordinary item, increased 22% to $151.2 million.
The company said operating cash flow -- earnings before interest, depreciation and LIFO -- rose 12.4% to $1.6 billion for the year and $16.8% to $444.6 million for the quarter.
Joseph A. Pichler, chairman and chief executive officer, said he was "elated" with the company's results. "Our retail operations benefited from improvements in product purchasing and coordinated merchandising in selected key categories," he said.
"Kroger's private-label business, manufacturing operations and convenience stores were also strong contributors."