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Metro CEO: grocery industry will be pressured by Ontario minimum wage hike

A Metro grocery store stands in this photograph taken with a tilt-shift lens in Toronto on July 24, 2013. GETTY IMAGES/BLOOMBERG/Brent Lewin.

MONTREAL — The CEO of Metro Inc. says the grocery industry is facing “significant pressure” from the Ontario government’s plan to raise the province’s minimum wages next year.

Eric R. La Fleche says the Montreal-based company will be exercising “strong control” over its operating expenses while striving to continue on a growth path — but didn’t say what measures it will take.

His comments were contained in Metro’s financial report for the 16 weeks ended July 1 and follow similar warnings by other retailers and a coalition representing a broad range of business groups.

Metro estimates the higher Ontario minimum wage will cost it approximately $45 million to $50 million on an annualized basis in 2018.

Metro’s net income was up 3.7 per cent or $4.5 million from the comparable period in last year’s fiscal third quarter, at $183 million or 78 cents per share.

Its overall sales edged up 1.4 per cent or $58.7 million to $4.07 billion but same-store sales were down 0.2 per cent.