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Ailing supermarket operator Daiei Inc. said Tuesday it suffered a 10.2 percent year-on-year decline in fiscal 2000 operating revenue on a parent-only basis, bringing in 1.98 trillion yen and falling below 2 trillion yen for the first time in a decade.

But the debt-laden supermarket chain also announced that it regained group profitability for the first time in four years during the 12 months to Feb. 28, thanks to the unloading of shareholdings and cost-cutting efforts.

Daiei said it posted a consolidated net profit of 45.89 billion yen during its fiscal year, recovering from a loss of 21.94 billion yen in the previous 12 months, mostly on sales of shares in convenience store operator Lawson Inc.

As for the revenue decline, Daiei blamed lethargic yearend sales and the closure of unprofitable outlets carried out under a three-year restructuring plan compiled in November.

Daiei reported a group pretax profit of 1.04 billion yen due mainly to reduced losses at affiliates, a turnaround from a loss of 33.16 billion yen the previous year.

Group operating revenue increased 2.4 percent to 2.9 trillion yen on an increase in the number of affiliates covered by the consolidated account.

For the current business year, Daiei predicts a group net profit of 19 billion yen and a group pretax profit of 16 billion yen on operating revenue of 2.6 trillion yen.

On a parent-only basis, Daiei posted a net loss of 192.18 billion yen for fiscal 2000, the first loss in six years, against a profit of 1.11 billion yen the year before, due to restructuring expenses.

Unconsolidated pretax profit climbed 78.2 percent to 2.04 billion yen, but the company said it will continue skipping dividend payments.

For the current business year, the company forecasts an unconsolidated pretax profit of 20 billion yen, a net profit of 6 billion yen and operating revenue of 1.8 trillion yen.

Supermarkets quieter

Sales at supermarkets fell 5.5 percent in March from a year earlier to 1.308 trillion yen, marking the 28th consecutive month of decline, the Japan Chain Stores Association said Tuesday.

Sales of some spring items performed relatively well due to favorable weather during the first half of March. But overall sales were depressed by poor weather toward the end of the month, the industry group said.

The year-to-year percentage change is adjusted for a change in the number of stores.

Food sales, accounting for more than 50 percent of overall supermarket sales, fell 3.5 percent to 681 billion yen. Those of clothes dropped 7.9 percent to 218.74 billion yen.

Sales of daily commodities, including medical and cosmetic goods, furniture and electrical appliances, fell 5 percent to 274.82 billion yen.

Revenue from travel-related businesses, ticket sales and other services, which account for 1 percent of overall sales, sagged 15.4 percent to 13.35 billion yen.

The sales data covers 7,053 outlets run by the association’s 109 member supermarket operators.

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