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North West Company Q3 profit up

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The North West Company shrugged off a decline in general merchandise sales to post a higher profit for the third quarter.

The Winnipeg-based junior department store chain said today that net earnings for the quarter ended Oct. 31 were up 2.9 per cent from the same period in 2011 — $17.5 million, or 36 cents per share, versus $17.0 million, or 35 cents per share.

That was in spite of a 0.2 per cent dip in sales, to $377.7 million. The company said although food sales were up 1.4 per cent for the quarter, that was offset by a five per cent decline in sales of general merchandise.

"Our work on being in-stock, controlling product waste and managing margins all helped to offset a difficult sales environment," said company president and CEO Edward Kennedy. "Our product mix, geared to everyday needs, also helped to counter a drop-off in big-ticket sales related to more constrained incomes."

The North West Company Inc. operates a chain of 230 stores in rural communities and urban neighbourhoods in Canada, Alaska, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. The stores operate under the Northern, NorthMart, and Giant Tiger banners in Canada, AC Value Center in Alaska, and Cost-U-Less in the South Pacific and Caribbean.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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