SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Penn Traffic Co. here is poised for growth, Joseph V. Fisher, president and chief executive officer, told the company's annual meeting here last week.
ny's decision to institute a stock buyback program involving up to $10 million worth of stock reflects its progress, Fisher told shareholders.
"Because the company's debt levels are significantly below our original expectations, we believe we can simultaneously implement our capital investment program and use a limited amount of our financial resources for a stock repurchase program," he explained.
"We believe the purchase of our common stock is a compelling investment for Penn Traffic, since we believe the current stock price does not reflect the longterm intrinsic value of our business."
Fisher said Penn Traffic's $100 million 18-month capital investment program, which started 11 months ago, is on schedule to complete approximately 30 major store projects and several minor remodels. "When this 18-month program is complete, we will have remodeled or rebuilt approximately 20% of our total square footage," he said.
In merchandising, the company introduced a Gold Label meat program last year, featuring an expanded variety of quality branded products, and in June it introduced a similar program in produce called Garden Fresh, Fisher said.
"Our goal is to deliver outstanding customer service and satisfy shoppers' desire for convenience," he said. Programs the company is introducing include expanded health and wellness departments; pizza made-to-order in brick ovens for in-store dining or carryout; 24-hour mini-markets within the store, and child play centers, with video monitors placed throughout the stores so parents can check on their children while they shop.
Fisher also described the company's new 3-in-1 superstore format, which it is using at its 15 Big Bear Plus stores in Ohio and West Virginia, consisting of a large supermarket, health and wellness center with pharmacy and a home furnishings center.
Fisher said the company has reduced distribution costs by approximately $2 million a year by converting its warehouse facility in Jamestown, N.Y., to a companywide nonfoods facility; the company has also reduced inventory shrink loss significantly, he added.