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Kroger same-store sales beat as online push pays off

(Reuters) - Kroger Co’s quarterly same-store sales and profit beat Wall Street estimates on Thursday as the supermarket chain’s investment to boost its delivery services and online business paid off.

The company has been focusing on its private label brands, rearranging store layouts and expanding services such as home delivery and self checkouts under its “Restock Kroger” program.

It has also launched its own line of plant-based meats and dairy to tap the growing consumer interest for vegan options.

The strategy helped Kroger record a 31% rise in sales from its online operations and a 3.1% increase in its private-label brands.

Sales at supermarkets open for more than a year, excluding the impact of fuel prices, rose 2.2%, its best since the launch of its turnaround plan. Analysts were expecting 1.91% increase, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net earnings attributable to Kroger fell to $297 million, or 37 cents per share, in the in the second quarter ended Aug.17, from $508 million, or 62 cents per share, a year earlier, mainly due to losses stemming from its stake in online grocer Ocado.

Excluding one-time items, Kroger earned 44 cents per share, 3 cents more than analysts’ expectations.

Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur