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LOS ANGELES -- Unified Western Grocers, Inc. here, the top wholesale grocery distributor in the western United States, posted sales for the fiscal quarter ended Dec. 30, 2006 of $781.4 million, an increase of 4.1 percent which the company said was due to the addition of new stores opened by members, and continued sales growth in its perishables and specialty products divisions.
Estimated patronage dividends grew 29 percent, to $6.6 million, for the quarter compared with the same period last year, which Unified said was due to improved sales combined with reductions in post-retirement benefits and transportation expenses.
Earnings before estimated patronage dividends and income taxes in quarter dipped $0.3 million from last year. The decrease in net earnings was a result of favorable nonrecurring adjustments in the year-ago period to claims reserves in Unified's insurance subsidiaries, offset by the improved performance in its patronage businesses during the current period, the company explained.
"We are continuing to see a change in the mix of product offerings throughout the retail grocery marketplace," noted Unified president and c.e.o. Alfred A. Plamann in a statement. "Demand for both fresh and specialty products remains very strong; many of our members and customers are allocating more shelf space to these products than they have in the past."
Plamann added that "workers' compensation expenses appear to have stabilized, which should remove some earnings volatility for us on a go-forward basis. We believe that 2007 is going to be another good year for Unified Western Grocers."
Unified Western Grocers, Inc. is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.