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    Safeway Boosted by Fuel Sales

    Sales from continuing operations increased to $7.8 billion, from $7.5 billion a year ago.

    PLEASANTON, Calif. ? Safeway Inc. here said today its third-quarter sales increased slightly, aided by fuel sales.

    For the period ended Sept. 6, sales from continuing operations increased to $7.8 billion, from $7.5 billion a year ago, primarily due to new store openings and additional fuel sales. Third-quarter comparable-store sales increased 0.8 percent, while identical-store sales excluding replacement stores rose 0.2 percent. Excluding the effect of fuel sales, comparable-store sales declined 0.9 percent, while identical-store sales declined 1.5 percent.

    Income from continuing operations was $203.3 million, compared with $280.9 million in 2002. Included in this year's results are employee buyout and severance costs, primarily in Alberta, Canada, totaling $9.7 million.

    Gross profit decreased by 78 basis points to 29.98 percent of sales in the third quarter of 2003, compared with 23.69 percent of sales in the third quarter of 2002, primarily due to higher health care, pension, and workers' compensation costs, the employee buyout, and soft sales.

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