Suggesting that current profit declines would lead to long-term gains, officials of Giant Food Inc. predicted yesterday that the company would rebound from a recent 24-week profit drop of 38 percent.
"I think we've hit the bottom," said David B. Sykes, Giant's senior vice president for finance. "I think we're going to go up." Sykes assesment came as Giant held its annual stockholders meeting at the supermarket chain's Grocery Distribution Center in Jessup, Md.
Despite the grim figures for Giant's fiscal 24-week period ended Aug. 9, Israil Cohen, Giant's chairman and chief executive officer, told stockholders that the company plans to continue its expansion program in the Washington and Baltimore areas.
"If there is any pessimism around, it's not with Giant," Cohen said. "We are optimistic." Further, the company officials predicted that sales at Giant -- already the nation's 40th-largest retail store chain -- would hit the $2 billion mark within five years. In the company's 1980 fiscal year, sales stood at $1.2 billion.
In addition, the company plans to spend about $33 million for store remodeling this year and also has contracted for three new "mini-mall" shopping center facilities. Company officials, in a video presentation, also stressed that the company performs many of its own services such as printing and construction to cut its costs.
Nevertheless, Sykes said that in light of inflation and the uncertain national and local economic picture, the company could not forecast full-year results. Sykes also noted after the meeting that as a result of a new contract signed with Local 400 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, the company's labor costs would rise by about 25 percent over the next three years.
Under questioning from stockholders, Cohen repeatedly praised the company's "warehouse store" concept. Giant recently opened the Clinton, Md., warehouse facility, in which a product's price is not marked on each unit. Two more such stores are planned for suburban Baltimore.
Cohen said the only thing the popular unit pricing adds for consumers is higher food prices. Unit pricing "doesn't add to the intrinsic value of the item itself," Cohen noted.
Cohen reiterated Giant's longstanding lack of interest either in making acquisitions or being acquired by another firm. He also insisted that Giant has no intention of moving outside the mid-Atlantic region.