ARCADIA, Calif. -- Vons Cos. here said the elimination of unproductive stores helped boost earnings for the first quarter ended March 26. And, despite operating 21 stores less during the quarter than it did at this time a year ago, Vons said sales were virtually even with the earlier period -- which the company attributed to improved customer service, advertising and merchandising programs. Net income for 12 weeks increased 55.6% to $14 million, or 32 cents per share. Operating income ...

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