Canadian food processor and distributor George Weston has announced rises in sales and net earnings for the second quarter ended 18 June 2005, although sales growth at Weston Foods was cut by the impact of currency translation.

Sales for the quarter were C$7.273bn (US$5.964bn), compared with $6.915bn in the same period a year earlier. Net earnings were $153m, compared with $140m the year before.

For the first half, sales were $14.245bn, compared with $13.466bn the year before. Net earnings for the half were $253m, compared with $261m a year ago.

"These consolidated results continue to reflect the transformational changes undertaken by both the Weston Foods and Food Distribution operating businesses in order to position the businesses for strong growth in the future," said chairman and president W Galen Weston in his report to shareholders. "Both business segments are making good progress in further improving their long term competitive positions and the underlying operational results in terms of sales, earnings growth and cash flow generation continue to be positive.

The growth in sales was a result of a sales increase of 6.2% at Weston Foods, offset by the negative impact of foreign currency translation which reduced Weston Foods      sales growth by approximately 5.8% resulting in a reported sales increase of 0.4%; and a sales increase of 6.0% at Loblaw including the positive impact of approximately 1.4% related to the consolidation of certain Loblaw independent franchisees, pursuant to new accounting standards.

Operating income for the second quarter of 2005 was $424m, including the negative impact from restructuring and other charges of $18m, compared to $403m in 2004, an improvement of 5.2%. Higher restructuring and other charges in the second quarter of 2005 as compared to 2004 negatively impacted operating income growth by 3.5%.