Worker absenteeism -- not trucker vaccine mandates -- impacting store shelves: Metro
Vaccine mandates for truckers have raised transportation costs -- but haven't impacted the shipment of goods to stores, the head of one of Canada's largest grocery chains says.
Instead, Metro president and CEO Eric La Fleche said Tuesday the biggest impact on Canada's food industry supply chain has been worker absenteeism due to COVID-19 protocols.
The labour shortage caused by quarantined workers has impacted the entire supply chain -- including retail stores, distribution centres and suppliers as well as transportation -- driving sporadic outages of certain products, he said.
"The domino effect clearly has had an impact over the last month on supply chain," La Fleche said.
Yet while there might be less depth and variety to Metro's product assortment than usual, La Fleche said "there's still food on store shelves."
"There's certainly less variety than there should be and we're not as full as we'd like to be," he said. "But we're not missing food out there."
Meanwhile, the worst of the product delays and shortages might have passed, La Fleche said.
"More and more people that were infected are back at work, both at our suppliers and in our own operations," he said. "It's improving every day. Every week, we're getting better."
Still, inflation is expected to persist, especially in transportation.
"Costs are up," La Fleche said. "It's higher inflation than normal in our business. We're getting cost increases from our suppliers and we are managing our prices at retail as best we can."
He said shipping costs have faced "significant inflation" over the past year, with an added jump earlier this month when Canada and the U.S. ushered in vaccine mandates at the border that have caused trucker shortages.
"We felt an immediate increase in the transportation costs for that," La Fleche said. "But I can't say that we have huge shipping issues affecting delivery of goods to our stores."
He added: "Overall, I think on the trucking side we are well serviced."
Diane Brisebois, Retail Council of Canada president and CEO, said the supply chain is being impacted by multiple factors from labour shortages to weather events like flooding and wildfires.
"I wish I could simply say it's because there aren't enough truckers, but it's much more complex than that," she said.
"In most cases we're seeing a delay of goods, not a shortage. The shelves will get restocked, eventually."
The comments came as Metro raised its quarterly dividend by 10 per cent to 27.5 cents per share and reported its first-quarter profit and sales climbed compared with a year ago.
The Montreal-based grocery and drugstore retailer said Tuesday it earned $207.7 million or 85 cents per diluted shared for the 12-week period ended Dec. 18, up from a profit of $191.2 million or 76 cents per share in the same quarter a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, Metro said it earned 88 cents per diluted share, up from an adjusted profit of 79 cents per diluted share a year ago.
Sales in the quarter totalled $4.32 billion, up from $4.28 billion in the same quarter last year. The increase came as food same-store sales fell 1.4 per cent compared with a year ago, while pharmacy same-store sales rose 7.7 per cent.
Metro said it expects sales to remain stable in its second quarter, but cautioned that there continues to be uncertainty.
In the short term, however, food sales are expected to remain relatively stable as restaurant closures and work-from-home advisories persist, Metro said.
On the pharmacy side, the company said sales are expected to climb compared with the prior year due to the launch of the COVID-19 rapid test distribution in its network coupled with less restrictive government measures.
Metro said it was "unfavourably impacted" last year by a six-week ban on the sale of non-essential goods in Quebec.
In light of the Omicron wave, Metro offered frontline store and distribution centre employees gift cards last week. Full-time workers will receive a $300 gift card while employees who work 15 hours a week or more will receive $150. Those that work fewer than 15 hours a week will receive $75.
The company operates under several banners including grocers Metro, Metro Plus, Super C and Food Basics, and drugstores under the Jean Coutu, Brunet, Metro Pharmacy and Drug Basics banners.
- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2022.
Montreal Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Riot police fired tear gas and pepper spray at Liverpool supporters forced to endure lengthy waits to get into the Champions League final amid logistical chaos and an attempt by UEFA and French authorities to blame overcrowding at turnstiles on people trying to access the stadium with fake tickets on Saturday.
One week after a severe wind and thunderstorm swept through Ontario and Quebec, just over 48,000 homes in the two provinces were still without power on Saturday.
The devastating storm in southern Ontario and Quebec last weekend damaged thousands of hydro poles across the two provinces. CTVNews.ca gives a rundown of where utility companies get their hydro poles from, as well as the climate challenges in the grid infrastructure.
Toronto police are announcing the arrest of three men in a more than six-month human trafficking investigation that involved an 18-year-old girl.
Police say a coyote bit a child in a west end Toronto park on Saturday afternoon.
A person is dead after a fire erupted in an apartment in the city’s east end Saturday morning.
Rough road to recovery for N.B. duty-free shop – still holding out hope border traffic will increase
A N.B. duty-free shop owner at the U.S.-Canada border says high fuel costs and lingering requirements at the border are hurting business.
Two special prosecutors tasked with taking on Nova Scotia's human trafficking cases are sharing some insight into what's currently happening in the province's courts.
Vinyl lovers packed a community centre in Riverview, N.B., Saturday in search of a hidden gem or the missing piece to their collection at the bi-annual Moncton Record Expo.
St. Aidan’s Anglican Church unveiled a new art installation Saturday, in anticipation for pride month
As the provincial election campaign winds down the bid to secure critical votes heats up, with two party leaders, Doug Ford and Andrea Horwath, making a stop in London on Sunday.
The Glen Cairn community and Glen Cairn School collected over 1300 boxes of mac and cheese to create a domino line that would then be donated to the London Food Bank
A small but passionate group gathered Saturday to protest the Ford government and autism therapy wait times outside PC MPP candidate Vic Fedeli's campaign office on McKeown Avenue.
The Sudbury Defeat Depression Walk/Run returned to Bell Park on Saturday, as the COVID-19 pandemic eases and normal events resume.
A long line of cars wrapped around the Humane Society's parking lot in North Bay Saturday morning as dozens of cats and dogs got microchipped.
A spark on special teams gave the Calgary Stampeders the momentum they needed to beat the B.C. Lions 41-6 on Saturday.
Back on the track: Calgary high school athletes compete in city championships for first time since pandemic
More than 600 athletes from 29 schools competed Saturday in the first Calgary high school city championship competition since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
A group of volunteers spent their Saturday morning outfitting a Calgary home with new appliances, furniture and food for a family in need.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Dixieland Jazz Club held a rumpus New Orleans-style wake on Saturday, in remembrance of its long-time director Nancy Pauli. Pauli passed away in February at the age of 81.
No driver's license was needed for a group of high-schoolers driving their own electric vehicles through the University of Waterloo campus on Saturday.
From crayons to corks, car seats, bicycles and batteries, the second semi-annual Re: Purpose Fest took place in Guelph Saturday afternoon.
A wave of resignations among Northern B.C. health-care workers – including half the doctors in the intensive care unit of the region’s biggest hospitals – is raising alarms among civic leaders already calling for an audit.
Volunteers in Vancouver are stepping their efforts as the city continues to see a rise in property crimes.
An emotional rally outside City Hall Saturday afternoon called for more permanent solutions to help keep Edmonton's Chinatown a vibrant community.
A slo pitch league in St. Albert is helping seniors stay active and have fun on the field.
A street in north Edmonton will bear the name of a Ukrainian dance company to honour their more than 50 years worth of contributions to the local arts and culture scene.
When 96-year-old Frank Davis woke up Saturday morning from his home in London, Ont., he never expected to find himself grasping the bars of a motorcycle that had played such a crucial role in his life
A two-year hiatus is now over for the Windsor Optimist Youth Band. The group was reunited Saturday during an open recruitment and alumni day celebration.
Windsor Regional Hospital is postponing a number of non-emergency diagnostic imaging scans due to an international shortage of contrast dye.
High school students from the Prairie Valley School Division gathered in Lumsden to build and support the LGBTQ2S+ community with the third annual Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Student Summit.
Environment Canada released a rainfall warning Saturday afternoon predicting 30-50mm of rainfall for the southeast corner of the province.
Hydro Ottawa says "we are close" to restoring power to the "bulk energy system" as crews enter "the last phase" of restoration efforts.
A 22-year-old Gatineau man died in hospital after being stabbed outside an establishment in Aylmer on Saturday morning.
It’s been one week since a devastating storm swept through the nation’s capital, knocking out power to tens of thousands of people.
A major fire ripped through a three-story Saskatoon apartment building in the 300 block of 108th Street W overnight on Friday.
The Prince Albert Police Service is investigating a homicide after a man was shot in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders along with other football teams in the province have declared a weekend in September as “Football Weekend” in the province.