MONTREAL — Metro Inc. would rather fight than switch.
Officials of the retailer here said they would delay until next year an announcement of banner name reductions in Ontario, saying it would focus its attention for now on battling in a highly competitive market. “We want our people to be focused on their job,” Eric LaFleche, chief operating officer, said in a conference call discussing the company's third-quarter results.
Metro had earlier indicated it would reduce the number of different store banners it operates in Ontario, where it picked up several new trade names as a result of its A&P acquisition. “We want to do it right at the right time,” said LaFleche, adding that competitive conditions in Ontario have and will continue to require price investments, particularly in its discount banners.
Metro is proceeding with a new private-label program, LaFleche said. The two-tier program is introducing the Irresistible premium brand and the Selection label for national-brand-parity products. New items with those names have been introduced in Quebec and will begin to appear on shelves elsewhere this fall, LaFleche said.
Metro said earnings increased 5% to $83.1 million on sales of $3.1 billion (U.S.) during its fiscal third quarter, which ended July 7. Sales were flat compared with the same period a year ago, with same-store sales growing by 2.1%, officials said.