OAKLAND, Calif. -- Improved operations boosted Safeway here to sales and earnings increases for the year and fourth quarter ended Dec. 31. Net income for the year rose 94.4% to $239.7 million following an after-tax charge of $30.2 million related to a $54.9-million voluntary employee buyout in 1993 in the chain's Alberta, Canada, division that was recorded in the first half of the year. Sales for the year rose 2.6% to $15.6 billion, while same-store sales jumped 4.4% -- the eighth consecutive quarter of same-store sales increases, the company indicated. For the 16-week quarter net income increased 81.9% to $85.3 million, while sales rose 4.3% to $4.9 billion and same-store sales grew 5.2%. Jonathan Ziegler, a securities analyst with Salomon Bros., New York, said management has improved operations through greater distribution efficiencies, consolidations and shutdowns of several manufacturing facilities, increased buying from outside sources when prices are lower, more aggressive pricing and better marketing to draw customers into its stores. Safeway operates 1,062 stores in the United States and Canada. During the year the chain opened 20 new stores and completed 71 remodels. The company said it plans to allocate approximately $400 million for capital expenditures this year, part of which will go toward opening 25 new stores and completing 90 to 100 remodels.