Kroger posts quarterly sales gains of 4.6%

CINCINNATI — Kroger on Thursday reported total sales of $22.7 billion for the second quarter ended Aug. 17, representing an increase of 4.6% as compared with the year-ago period. Total sales, excluding fuel, increased 3.9% in the second quarter over the same period last year.  

And according to the grocer, this quarter marks the 39th consecutive quarter of positive identical supermarket sales.

"Kroger's strong second quarter results have us on target to deliver the earnings per share growth we promised for the year," stated David Dillon, Kroger's chairman and CEO. "As we have shown quarter after quarter, our consistent execution of the Customer 1st Strategy deepens customer loyalty, increases sales and creates sustainable shareholder value."

The company's digital strategy is paying dividends, the company noted. "If you look at our digital app now, it's among the top 2% of downloads [at the Apple app store]," Rodney McMullen, Kroger president and COO, told analysts Thursday morning. 

"We are improving our connection with customers and associates, rewarding shareholders and investing to grow our business," Dillon said. "We intend to continue building on this positive momentum with execution at every level of the company to achieve our long-term earnings per share growth rate of 8% to 11% in fiscal 2013 and beyond." 

In a move that will expand Kroger's footprint "into new and exciting markets," Kroger in July announced its $2.5 billion proposed acquisition of Harris Teeter. No store closures are expected as part of that deal. And Kroger expects to apply Harris Teeter's operational expertise across urban upscale markets to its existing store base. Kroger also stated it would explore potentially expanding Harris Teeter's online click-and-collect service, whereby consumers can order their groceries online to be picked up at the store at a designated time. 

Together, that merged company will operate 2,631 supermarkets and employ more than 368,300 associates across 34 states and the District of Columbia. Following closing, Harris Teeter will continue to operate its stores as a subsidiary of Kroger and will continue to be led by key members of Harris Teeter's senior management team.

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