Worker absenteeism — not trucker vaccine mandates — impacting store shelves: Metro

Vaccine mandates for truckers have raised transportation prices — however have not impacted the cargo of products to shops, the top of considered one of Canada’s largest grocery chains says.

As an alternative, Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche mentioned Tuesday the largest affect on Canada’s meals business provide chain has been employee absenteeism as a result of COVID-19 protocols.

The labour shortage brought on by quarantined employees has impacted your entire provide chain — together with retail shops, distribution centres and suppliers in addition to transportation — driving sporadic outages of sure merchandise, he mentioned.

“The domino impact clearly has had an affect during the last month on provide chain,” La Fleche mentioned.

But whereas there is perhaps much less depth and selection to Metro’s product assortment than standard, La Fleche mentioned “there’s nonetheless meals on retailer cabinets.”

“There is definitely much less selection than there ought to be and we’re not as full as we might prefer to be,” he mentioned. “However we’re not lacking meals on the market.”

In the meantime, the worst of the product delays and shortages might need handed, La Fleche mentioned.

“Increasingly those who have been contaminated are again at work, each at our suppliers and in our personal operations,” he mentioned. “It is enhancing each day. Each week, we’re getting higher.”

Nonetheless, inflation is anticipated to persist, particularly in transportation.

“Prices are up,” La Fleche mentioned. “It is increased inflation than regular in our enterprise. We’re getting price will increase from our suppliers and we’re managing our costs at retail as greatest we are able to.”

He mentioned transport prices have confronted “vital inflation” over the previous 12 months, with an added bounce earlier this month when Canada and the U.S. ushered in vaccine mandates at the border that have caused trucker shortages.

“We felt a right away enhance within the transportation prices for that,” La Fleche mentioned. “However I can not say that we have now enormous transport points affecting supply of products to our shops.”

He added: “General, I believe on the trucking aspect we’re properly serviced.”

Diane Brisebois, Retail Council of Canada president and CEO, mentioned the availability chain is being impacted by a number of components from labour shortages to climate occasions like flooding and wildfires.

“I want I may merely say it is as a result of there aren’t sufficient truckers, however it’s far more advanced than that,” she mentioned.

“Usually we’re seeing a delay of products, not a scarcity. The cabinets will get restocked, finally.”

The feedback got here as Metro raised its quarterly dividend by 10 per cent to 27.5 cents per share and reported its first-quarter revenue and gross sales climbed in contrast with a 12 months in the past.

The Montreal-based grocery and drugstore retailer mentioned Tuesday it earned $207.7 million or 85 cents per diluted shared for the 12-week interval ended Dec. 18, up from a revenue of $191.2 million or 76 cents per share in the identical quarter a 12 months earlier.

On an adjusted foundation, Metro mentioned it earned 88 cents per diluted share, up from an adjusted revenue of 79 cents per diluted share a 12 months in the past.

Gross sales within the quarter totalled $4.32 billion, up from $4.28 billion in the identical quarter final 12 months. The rise got here as meals same-store gross sales fell 1.4 per cent in contrast with a 12 months in the past, whereas pharmacy same-store gross sales rose 7.7 per cent.

Metro mentioned it expects gross sales to stay steady in its second quarter, however cautioned that there continues to be uncertainty.

Within the quick time period, nevertheless, meals gross sales are anticipated to stay comparatively steady as restaurant closures and work-from-home advisories persist, Metro mentioned.

On the pharmacy aspect, the corporate mentioned gross sales are anticipated to climb in contrast with the prior 12 months as a result of launch of the COVID-19 speedy take a look at distribution in its community coupled with much less restrictive authorities measures.

Metro mentioned it was “unfavourably impacted” final 12 months by a six-week ban on the sale of non-essential items in Quebec.

In mild of the Omicron wave, Metro supplied frontline retailer and distribution centre staff reward playing cards final week. Full-time employees will obtain a $300 reward card whereas staff who work 15 hours every week or extra will obtain $150. Those who work fewer than 15 hours every week will obtain $75.

The corporate operates underneath a number of banners together with grocers Metro, Metro Plus, Tremendous C and Meals Fundamentals, and drugstores underneath the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Fundamentals banners.

– This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Jan. 25, 2022.

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