ROBINSONS Retail Holdings, Inc. (RRHI) booked a 45% jump in earnings during the first quarter due to higher contributions from premium grocery shop operator Rustan Supercenters, Inc.

In a statement yesterday, the Gokongwei-led retailer said its attributable net income in the three-month period stood at P923 million from P637 million a year ago.

“This was driven by the 40 basis points gain in operating income margin mainly lifted by the strong performance in Rustan,” it said.

Core net earnings rose 32.7% to P784 million. This excludes interest from bonds, equitized net earnings from RRHI’s 40% stake in Robinsons Bank and unrealized forex gains/losses.

Net sales stood at P40.06 billion, a growth of 7.3% from a year ago. This took into account the temporary closure of some of its stores since the implementation of an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon starting March 17.

RRHI said it now limits its operations to supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores as these are the only ones considered “essential” and exempted from the ECQ. These stores, it said, comprised 77% of the company’s consolidated sales.

Same store sales growth (SSSG), or sales from RRHI’s existing stores, grew 6.9% in the first quarter. It said this growth was led by panic buying observed in customers in March when the ECQ was ordered. SSSG for supermarkets saw a record 18.7%, and SSSG for drugstores stood at 13.7%. The rest of RRHI’s business segments saw negative SSSG during the period.

“Robinsons Retail continues to be in a net cash position of over P27.7 billion as of end March 2020. The company spent a total of P558 million in capital expenditures for the quarter,” it said.

RRHI has a total of 1,891 stores across the country as of end-March, which consist of 262 supermarkets, 49 department stores, 223 do-it-yourself stores, 511 convenience stores, 518 drugstores and 328 specialty stores. Of these stores, approximately 40% are closed while the ECQ is in place.

The ECQ in Greater Metro Manila and select regions across the country is set to expire on May 15.

Shares in RRHI at the stock exchange gained P2.45 or 3.92% to P64.95 each on Wednesday. — Denise A. Valdez