Canadian retailer Metro Inc is to close stores in Ontario to stave off increased competition, the country’s most populous province.

Metro said a “reorganisation” of its store network in Ontario would affect 15 outlets. An unspecified number will close and some will be converted to its Food Basics banner.

News of the plans came alongside Metro’s third-quarter results. Metro reported higher earnings in the three months to 6 July and pointed to “good margin management and strong operating cost control in a difficult competitive environment, particularly in Ontario”.

It said the closures and store changes in Ontario would “better meet customer needs” and lower its costs in the province. The moves will see the retailer book a restructuring charge of C$60m (US$58.1m) in the fourth quarter.

“We are confident that these investments in our network, combined with our merchandising programs, will allow us to continue to grow despite increased competition,” it said.

Third-quarter net earnings were up 3.5% at C$149.8m and came despite lower sales. Metro said sales dipped 0.7% to C$3.57bn. Excluding the shift in a public holiday compared to last year and the closure of “unprofitable” stores, sales were flat. However, Metro added low inflation meant same-store fell 0.9%.

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Click here for the full statement from Metro.