Jun 21, 2018 • 10:00 am ET

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good morning and welcome to The Kroger Company's First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. (Operator Instructions) Please note this event is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Rebekah Manis, Director of IR. Please go ahead.

Executive
Rebekah Manis

Thank you, Laura. Good morning and thank you for joining us. (Forward-Looking Cautionary Statements)

Both our first quarter press release and our prepared remarks from this conference call will be available on our website at ir.kroger.com. After our prepared remarks, we look forward to taking your questions. In order to cover a broad range of topics from as many of you as we can, we ask that you please limit yourself to one question and one follow-up question, if necessary. Thank you.

I will now turn the call over to Kroger's Chairman and CEO, Rodney McMullen.

Executive
Rodney McMullen

Thank you, Rebekah, and congratulations on your recent promotion to Director of Internal Relations. Mike and I really look forward to working with you in your new role in a closer basis. Good morning everyone and thank you for joining us. With me today to review Kroger's first quarter 2018 results, is EVP and CFO, Mike Schlotman.

Restock Kroger is off to a great start, I am especially proud of our team's execution of process changes that led to strong cost controls. We are committed to knowing and serving our customers so well that Kroger serves all of their shopping needs. Our most fundamental strategy remains unchanged as customers' tastes change and their shopping habits evolve we will be there for them. That means we will make the investments needed to provide our customers with the best full service grocery experience in America. Plus, we are investing in our associates more than ever before and seeing improvements in retention. We are creating a seamless environment where our customers can choose how to engage with us both in-store and online.

We are actively improving the store experience. Our space optimization work is ahead of schedule and our brands achieved another period of record growth while at the same time growing our digital sales by more than 66% in the first quarter, which was due to our ongoing expansion of ClickList, our delivery initiative and identical growth. Our first quarter results enabled us to raise the low end of our EPS guidance for the year while also setting us up well to deliver on our identical sales target range for 2018. As you know, Restock Kroger is our three-year plan to create shareholder value by redefining how America eats.

We are making progress in each of the four main drivers, redefine the grocery customer experience, partner for customer value, develop talent and live our purpose. Using our deep insights and experience, Kroger is imagining the future of retail by building on our core business plus adding exciting and innovative partnerships like Ocado and our planned merger