NEW YORK — Food-retailing stocks in general fared better than the market overall in 2008, although more than half of the North American supermarket and wholesaler issues tracked by SN had double-digit percentage declines during the year.
Among U.S. companies, Minneapolis-based Nash Finch Co., under new management during 2008, saw the biggest increase during the year, with a gain of about 21%. Wal-Mart Stores, Bentonville, Ark., was up about 16%, as the company’s strong price position on everyday items kept sales humming during the economic recession.
The biggest decliners included the formerly high-flying Whole Foods Market, which slid about 77% after sales gains slowed to a trickle and the company eased off its breakneck expansion pace; and A&P, which struggled in its integration of Pathmark Stores and lost about 81% of its value in 2008.
Two of the largest Canadian operators, Metro Inc. and Empire Cos., the parent of the Sobeys chain, had double-digit gains in 2008, with Metro up about 35% and Empire up about 12%.
Among the “big three” in the U.S., Kroger was basically flat for the year, while Safeway fell about 30% and Supervalu slid more than 60%.
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