Parent Loblaw Companies Ltd. said that for the first quarter ended March 28, comparable-store sales at the drug chain climbed 3.1% overall, reflecting increases of 2.7% in the front end and 3.5% in the pharmacy.
Prescription count at Shopper Drug Mart rose 4.8% overall and 4.7% on a comparable-pharmacy basis in the quarter.
Year over year, the average prescription value dipped 1.1% in the first quarter. Generic drugs accounted 64.5% of prescriptions dispensed in the period, compared with 62.5% a year earlier.
Loblaw reported total retail segment sales of $9.83 billion (Canadian) for the first quarter, up 38.5% from the prior-year period. Shoppers Drug Mart accounted for about $2.6 billion of the company’s retail sales, with pharmacy sales at the drug chain totaling $1.26 billion and front-end sales coming in at $1.34 billion. Loblaw’s overall retail same-store sales grew 2.3% in the quarter.
“In 2015, we continue to execute against the clear strategic framework we set out a year ago,” Galen Weston, executive chairman and president of Loblaw Companies, said in a statement. “Our entire organization is focused on delivering the best in food, the best in health and beauty, operational excellence and growth. Although the grocery industry remains highly competitive and health care reform continues to challenge our pharmacy business, we are maintaining stable business performance, gaining incremental efficiencies, delivering synergies on schedule, deleveraging the balance sheet and achieving continued earnings growth.”
Loblaw added that 53 supermarkets and drug stores were opened and 34 supermarkets and drug stores were closed in the 12 months ended March 28, with another two franchise grocery stores and 16 drug stores divested in line with Consent Agreement with Canada’s Competition Bureau related to the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart. That resulted in a net increase of 0.1 million square feet, or 0.1% compared with the date of acquisition. Excluding the divestitures, net square footage edged up by 0.3 million, or 0.5%.