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Ito-Yokado Co. slipped from top place among Japanese supermarket chains in terms of operating profits for the first time in 15 years in fiscal 2000, according to the firm’s earnings report released Thursday.

Jusco Co. on Monday announced 23.61 billion yen in operating profits in its fiscal business year that ended Feb. 20, compared with Ito-Yokado’s 16.25 billion yen, which was down 46.8 percent from the previous year.

Ito-Yokado had held the No. 1 position in operating profits since it overtook Daiei Inc. in fiscal 1985.

Ito-Yokado officials attributed the decline to decreased sales and the costs of opening nine new stores.

Its pretax profits also fell 17.6 percent to 42.09 billion yen and its net profits decreased 40.5 percent to 20.01 billion yen due to one-time charges on retirement allowances and the decreased stock prices of its affiliates, they said.

Sales also decreased 1.9 percent from a year earlier to 1.48 trillion yen.

Ito-Yokado’s consolidated pretax profits came to 163.78 billion yen, down 3.9 percent from the previous year. Consolidated operating profits fell 7 percent to 165.35 billion yen, while consolidated net profits also decreased 2.6 percent to 48.88 billion yen.

But group sales increased 1.2 percent from the previous year to 3.1 trillion yen.

The company estimates it will secure consolidated pretax profits of 167 billion yen, consolidated net profits of 54 billion yen and group sales of 3.22 trillion yen for its current business year to Feb. 28.

On a parent-only basis, Ito-Yokado forecasts pretax profits of 42.8 billion yen, net profits of 28.6 billion yen and group sales of 1.54 trillion yen.

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