US grocery retailer Albertsons has said it has withdrawn its fiscal year 2003 earnings guidance due to the magnitude and uncertain duration of the current labour dispute in Southern California.

The company said it was unable to provide revised guidance at this time and that third-quarter earnings will be reported as scheduled on 5 December.

Meanwhile, talks aimed at bringing the dispute to a close ended without resolution this week, after mediators said employers and union negotiators needed time to reconsider their positions, reported Reuters.

The talks involve representatives from US grocers Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway, and negotiators from the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, which represents around 70,000 workers on strike or locked out in Southern California.

Greg Denier, a spokesman for the UFCW said he was unaware of a date scheduled for a resumption of the talks.

“I don’t think there’s a date scheduled. The mediator would make an assessment of the situation and then make a recommendation about how to move (the talks) forward,” Denier was quoted by Reuters as saying.