Grocery store operator Albertsons Companies (NYSE:ACI) made its public debut after an $800 million initial public offering (IPO) on June 26, 2020. In its first quarterly earnings report since the IPO, the company said comparable-store sales increased 26.5% versus the year-ago period, including a 276% jump in digital sales. Rival Kroger (NYSE:KR) had said in its first-quarter report that its digital sales increased 92%, with comps increasing 19%. 

Pandemic-related demand led Albertsons to minimize promotional activity during most of its first quarter, the company said, before accelerating promotions again beginning in late May. This helped increase its first-quarter gross profit margins to 29.8%. 

woman and child grocery shopping with masks

Image source: Getty Images.

Albertsons also said that it made about $615 million in coronavirus-related investments in the quarter, for protection of its associates and customers. The spending included $275 million in "appreciation pay" for its frontline workers. CEO Vivek Sankaran said, "Their hard work and dedication have also allowed us to successfully navigate this extraordinary environment, and we have accelerated our digital and e-commerce strategy to adapt to market conditions."

In the quarter, the company said it had approximately $402 million in capital expenditures, including accelerated spending on e-commerce, store remodeling projects, and strategic technology. 

Albertsons operates in 34 states under several different brand names including Albertsons, Safeway, and Acme. As of June 20, the company had over 2,250 retail supermarkets and drugstores, with 1,726 pharmacies, and 402 associated gasoline stations.