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    Canadian Tire Reports On First Quarter

    Retail location sales up 4 percent, despite posting a 25.9 percent drop in overall results

    TORONTO -- While Canadian Tire Corp. is reportedly not backing away from expansion into new store formats this year, it will cut back on capital expenditures, chief executive Stephen Wetmore said Thursday, according to a report on Canada.com.

    The company, which operates Canada’s largest independent gas stations, with 273 gas bars, 266 convenience stores and kiosks, and 74 carwashes, cut its 2009 planned capital expenditures to $360 million from $390 million, Wetmore told shareholders at the company's annual meeting, and is looking at further ways to reduce working capital.

    "When you look at the economy, you have to be very proud of what we are achieving," he said. "We are not resting on our laurels … but overall, we're extremely pleased with how we have been performing."

    The retailer posted a 25.9 percent drop in first-quarter results announced Thursday, but still beat analysts' estimates, and the retailer's shares finished the day up 6 percent, Canada.com reported.

    Overall sales at Canadian Tire retail locations are up 4 percent, to $1.26 billion in the first quarter of 2009 from $1.21 billion in the first quarter of 2008.

    "Our focus in the first quarter, which is our smallest in terms of retail sales, was twofold: to continue our sales momentum in Canadian Tire Retail and to effectively manage our credit card receivables," said Wetmore in the report.

    Same-store sales at Canadian Tire's retail stores in the quarter were up 2.5 percent compared to 2008, which registered a 4 percent decline.

    Canadian Tire opened three new stores and several smaller venues in the quarter, and two-thirds of Canadian Tire's retail space has been upgraded in the last five years through new stores and renovations. A representative from the company confirmed that the retail chain plans to open 35 new stores in 2009, according to Canada.com.

    "We are always looking at opportunities in communities across the country to ensure we are conveniently located and providing the right type of shopping experience to our customers," Joanne Elson, manager of media and public relations for the company, said in the report.

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