PLEASANTON, Calif. — Safeway here believes it is well positioned to benefit from an improvement in the economy, given its newly achieved price parity with other conventional chains, its distinct points of differentiation and the condition of its asset base, Steve Burd, chairman, president and chief executive officer, told an investors conference here Wednesday today.
The company is "continuing to build momentum" through the first quarter, he added, with eight of its nine U.S. divisions showing "a measurable response" to the chain's lower-everyday-pricing program. Burd declined to name the division that is not responding, and company officials declined to indicate if he was referring to the Denver division, which had been been mired in a labor dispute that was not settled until early February.
Burd said he anticipates inflation on price per item of 0.4% for the year, compared with an industry average of about 3% in a more usual, non-recessionary economy. Broken out by quarter, he said he expects 1% negative inflation in the first quarter; positive 0.5% in the second; positive 0.7% in the third; and positive 1% in the fourth.
"The economy has already begun to improve, with consumers starting to feel a bit better," Burd added.
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