Ito-Yokado Co. has claimed top spot in the supermarket chain sector in terms of operating profits for the first time in two years, according to an earnings report released by the company Thursday.

The retailer posted 30.57 billion yen in unconsolidated operating profits in its business year through February, up 88.1 percent from the previous year, while rival Aeon Co. logged 26.54 billion yen. Aeon, which runs the Jusco supermarket chain, took the No. 1 slot in terms of operating profits in 2000.

Ito-Yokado officials attributed the rise to restructuring efforts aimed at increasing the firm’s operational efficiency, along with improved store layouts, product development and marketing.

On an unconsolidated basis, its pretax profits rose 9.6 percent from a year earlier to 46.14 billion yen, while its net profits jumped 28.9 percent to 25.79 billion yen. The company’s sales came to 1.51 trillion yen, up 2.1 percent.

Ito-Yokado’s consolidated operating profits, however, fell 2.7 percent from the previous year to 160.97 billion yen, due to losses sustained in fledgling businesses such as IY Bank and credit card issuer IY Card Service Co.

Its consolidated pretax profits rose 4.9 percent to 171.79 billion yen, while its consolidated net profits increased 7 percent to 52.32 billion yen. Group sales jumped 7.4 percent to 3.33 trillion yen.

For the current business year to next February, the retailer is projecting group sales of 3.47 trillion yen, consolidated operating profits of 192 billion yen, consolidated pretax profits of 183 billion yen and consolidated net profits of 53.2 billion yen.

On a parent-only basis, the company is forecasting sales of 1.53 trillion yen, operating profits of 34 billion yen, pretax profits of 51 billion yen and net profits of 33 billion yen.

Upturn for Izumiya

OSAKA — Midsize supermarket chain Izumiya Co. said Thursday it slashed its group net losses dramatically in the 2001 business year by cutting costs and selling fixed properties.

In the year through Feb. 28, the retailer’s group net losses came in at 1.32 billion yen. The previous business year, it had logged net losses of 13.91 billion yen.

Izumiya attributed the improvement to a successful cost-cutting drive and the securing of 5.47 billion yen in extraordinary profits from sales of fixed properties.

The net balance fell short of returning to the black, however, as the company was forced to dish out extra retirement allowances to employees who applied to quit under a workforce downsizing program.

The expenses associated with the program and related costs came to 8.19 billion yen.

The firm’s pretax profits came in at 1.49 billion yen, marking a striking turnaround from the previous year’s losses of 3.98 billion yen.

The company also returned operating profits of 2.21 billion yen, a sharp improvement from the preceding year’s losses of 4.20 billion yen.

Izumiya said it will not pay a dividend in the latest business year, following a per-share dividend of 16 yen paid in the previous business year.

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