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Aeon Co., which operates the Jusco supermarket chain, reported record sales and record profits on a consolidated basis for its business year, which ended Feb. 20, company officials said Monday.

Group sales rose 7.2 percent from the previous year to 2.93 trillion yen. Its consolidated pretax profits jumped 31.3 percent from the previous year to 114.76 billion yen and its consolidated operating profits also leaped 29.5 percent to 119.22 billion yen.

Aeon President Motoya Okada attributed the rises to brisk business at Jusco stores, U.S.-based fashion chain Talbots, Inc. and Aeon Credit Service Co.

But the retailer posted consolidated net losses of 16.14 billion yen from consolidated net profits of 22.52 billion yen a year earlier, due to a one-time charge on changes of its pension and retirement allowance systems, they said.

On a parent-only basis, Aeon posted 1.67 trillion yen in sales, up 2.9 percent from the previous year. Its operating profits rose 12.4 percent to 26.54 billion yen and its pretax profits increased 12.2 percent to 28.84 billion yen.

It reported net losses of 37.51 billion yen, compared with net profits of 3.72 billion yen the previous year.

Okada said Aeon will accelerate its group efforts to reduce operating costs by utilizing information technology and introducing more private-label brand products.

“We must reform our operations to increase profitability so that we can compete with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (which last month announced its impending entry into Japan),” he said.

For the current business year through next Feb. 20, Aeon predicts group sales of 3.03 trillion yen, consolidated pretax profits of 124 billion yen, consolidated operating profits of 132 billion yen and consolidated net profits of 43 billion yen.

On a parent-only basis, the retailer forecasts sales of 1.7 trillion yen, pretax profits of 32 billion yen, operating profits of 32 billion yen and net profits of 17 billion yen.

Ministop profits fall

Ministop Co., Japan’s seventh-largest convenience store chain, said Monday its group net profits fell 22 percent to 3.6 billion yen for the year ended Feb. 28, due mainly to retirement expenses.

Ministop, a unit of major supermarket chain Aeon Co., blamed the decreased profitability on one-time costs to make up for a shortfall of 684 million yen in reserves for retirement allowances, as well as 894 million yen to dispose of old computer systems.

Per-share group net profits fell to 121.53 yen from 155.76 yen the previous year.

Group pretax profits fell 4.3 percent to 8.69 billion yen on slim profit margins amid sagging retail prices, although group operating revenues rose 6.8 percent to 58.87 billion yen.

Ministop said it will pay a yearend dividend of 17.50 yen per share, unchanged from the previous year, bringing its annual dividend up to 34 yen from 33 yen, as it raised its interim dividend by 1 yen to 16.5 yen.

For the year to next Feb. 28, Ministop expects group net profits of 3.8 billion yen and group pretax profits of 8.2 billion yen on operating revenues of 60.7 billion yen.

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