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ALBERTSONS REPORTS RECORD SALES OF $3.3 BILLION FOR 1ST QUARTER

Albertsons Inc. announced record sales and earnings for its first fiscal quarter ended May 2.

Sales of $3.3 billion were up 8.4 percent over the same quarter last year. Identical store sales increased 2.4 percent and comparable store sales (which include replacement stores) increased 2.7 percent.Operating profit increased 11.6 percent and net earnings of $112.4 million were up 13.2 percent over the first fiscal quarter of 1995. Earnings per share increased 15.4 percent to 45 cents per share, up from 39 cents per share last year.

Directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per share, payable Aug. 25 to stockholders of record Aug. 2.

"We are pleased with the quarter's results and the identical store sales increase," said A. Craig Olson, chief financial officer.

"The company continues to make good progress on the critical success factors in the retail food-drug industry - increasing identical store sales, providing employee training and advancement, and increasing retail square footage."

He said that during the first quarter, Albertsons focused on quick meal ideas and improving front-end service. Fourteen stores were opened during the first quarter including two stores that were acquired; one in Fullerton, Calif., and one in Ponca City, Okla. The company said it plans to open an additional 54 stores in the remaining three quarters of 1996 for a total of 68 for the year.

Remodels were completed on six stores and plans call for the completion of an additional 37 stores for a total of 43 remodels for the year.

One store was closed during the quarter.

Net retail square footage increased 9.7 percent since the first quarter last year. The company now operates 37.1 million square feet of retail space, 95 percent of which has been opened or remodeled in the past 10 years.

A spokesman said Albertsons' new distribution center in Houston became fully operational on March 18 and is shipping merchandise to the company's retail stores in south Texas and south Louisiana. The company supplies all of its retail stores from 12 company-owned distribution centers.

Albertsons operates 777 stores in 19 Western, Midwestern and Southern states.