STELLARTON, Nova Scotia — Sobeys posted a sales gain of 5.8% — 2.4% excluding acquisitions — and a 0.6% same-store sales gain in the fiscal fourth quarter, parent company Empire Cos. said Thursday.


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Sobeys accounts for nearly all of Empire’s financial results. The parent company reported quarterly net earnings of $102.5 million (U.S.) on sales of $4.1 billion. Net earnings increased 16.6% from the same period last year, and sales were up by 5.8%. For the fiscal year, food retail sales increased 8.4% to $16.8 billion.

Sales were impacted by the acquisition of 236 gas stations and convenience stores accounting for around $1 billion in sales during the year. Excluding those stores, Sobeys sales improved by 2.8% for the fiscal year.

In addition, Empire Cos. on Thursday said it reached agreements to sell its movie theater operations in two separate transactions, saying the deals would allow the company to focus attention on Sobeys and its real estate holdings.

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Empire said Cineplex Inc. would acquire 24 theaters in Atlantic Canada and two in Ontario for $200 million in cash. In a separate deal, Empire said it would sell 20 theaters in Ontario and Western Canada to Landmark Cinemas for around $55 million. Empire said it would retain a stake in the Landmark properties, although Landmark would manage the business and have the right to buy Empire’s stake for $19 million.

“The decision to sell the business of Empire Theaters was a difficult one as it had a long history in our company and is a great business with excellent employees who have worked hard over many years to build an attractive entertainment division,” Paul Sobey, chairman of Empire, said in a statement. “The decision, however, aligns with the strategic direction of the company to focus our resources on our food retail business … and on our real estate.”

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