FINANCE

Kroger profit up 7.3%

BY Marianne Wilson

Cincinnati — The Kroger Co. reported Friday that net income in the second quarter rose 7.3% to $280.8 million. The company said earnings got a boost from tax adjustments and sales at its gas stations.

Sales increased 11.5% to $20.9 billion. Same-store sales were up 5.3%.

“Our ongoing investments in the four keys — our people, products, prices and the shopping experience — continued to enhance our connection with customers and drive positive identical sales growth,” said David B. Dillon, Kroger’s chairman and CEO.

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STORE SPACES

McDonald’s Canada investing $1 billion in chain-wide store remodeling

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — McDonald’s Canada is investing approximately $1 billion in an ambitious program to transform the look, feel and function of its more than 1,400 locations across the country. More than half of the stores are expected to be remodeled by yearend, with the rest completed by the end of 2012.

The restaurants are being made over to have a more contemporary and welcoming ambience. On the exterior, McDonald’s signature red mansard roof is being replaced with a more modern-looking flatter roof. Also new: an attention-grabbing “red blade” architectural element that will provide a home for the corporate logo.

The interior features bold new color palettes, with splashes of McDonald’s traditional brand hues. Notable design features include fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, stone and tile accents, as well as wood tones and colorful wall graphics.

The dining areas are being divided into separate eating areas to accommodate a range of patrons, from larger groups to individuals who want to stay and take advantage of such new amenities as free Wi-Fi.

A new front counter service platform is designed to enhance speed and service. To that same end, many locations will be updated with double-lane drive-thrus. Kitchen-layout changes and new restaurant equipment will help accelerate the company’s menu evolution and facilitate greater order customization

“This is a pivotal time for McDonald’s and we’re placing unwavering focus on transforming the face of our brand,” said John Betts, president and CEO of McDonald’s Canada. “Strong and sustained business results have put us in a unique position to make this historic investment in improving restaurant ambiance, enhancing service and supporting our continued menu evolution.”

In an article in The Canadian Press, Betts said renovated stores have already succeeded in bringing in more customers.

"The business we’ve been enjoying from our reimaged restaurants or remodeled restaurants is close to double digits," he said.

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REAL ESTATE

Electronic Arts makes retail debut with EA Sports Experience

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — Videogame maker Electronic Arts has entered the retail arena, opening the EA Sports Experience store, at the Charlotte Douglas International airport, Charlotte, N.C. It will open two additional U.S. airport locations by the end of 2011.

The store sells EA Sports’ games and branded apparel, as well as gear from local sports teams. It features televisions with live sports programming, comfortable seating and electrical outlets to charge portable devices. Customers can also play their favorite EA Sports video games.

“With a passionate local sports fan base and more than 20 million flyers traveling through the Charlotte Douglas International airport each year, this was an ideal location to open this venue,” said Christopher Erb, VP brand marketing, EA Sports. “We’re excited to extend our brand and products to new audiences by providing unique and premium experiences for consumers.”

Additional EA Sports stores are planned to open at the Salt Lake City International Airport in October and the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City in November.

“Paradies is proud to begin its exclusive partnership with EA Sports,” said Gregg Paradies, president and CEO. “We look forward to expanding our relationship with this innovative brand to offer customers a true interactive experience, unlike any other found in airports today.”

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