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    Ingles Reports Lift in Sales and Income for Q4 and Fiscal '06

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Regional supermarket operator Ingles Markets, Inc. reported a major jump in both fourth quarter and fiscal year sales and earnings yesterday, noting improvements in performance from every department.

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Regional supermarket operator Ingles Markets, Inc. reported a major jump in both fourth quarter and fiscal year sales and earnings yesterday, noting improvements in performance from every department.

    For the 2006 year, ended Sept. 30, net income increased 60.3 percent to a record $42.6 million, driven by a 14.9 percent increase in sales to a record $2.61 billion compared with fiscal 2005 results. For the fourth fiscal quarter, net income rose 22.6 percent to $11.5 million as a result of a 22.4 percent increase in net sales to $723.0 million.

    "Ingles' excellent results reflect the success of programs we've been working on for a number of quarters to drive sales and keep expenses down," said c.e.o. Robert P. Ingle in a statement. "Sales increased in every department during 2006. We've expanded our product offerings and are building new stores that allow our customers to get what they need with one stop to their neighborhood Ingles store."

    This was Ingles' 42nd consecutive year of sales growth.

    The company noted that fiscal year 2006 included 53 weeks, compared with 52 weeks for fiscal 2005, and the fourth quarter of fiscal 2006 included 14 weeks compared with 13 weeks for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005.

    Ingles' net sales growth was driven by increases in every department. Adjusted for the additional week in the fiscal 2006 quarter, net sales increased 14.2 percent and grocery segment comparable store sales growth was 5.9 percent. Both average weekly customer visits and the average purchase amount increased over the comparative fourth quarters.

    Excluding gasoline sales, fourth quarter sales increased 16.8 percent or $93.8 million compared to the fourth quarter of fiscal 2005. Gasoline gallons sold increased by 98 percent, and the average price per gallon increased approximately 10 percent compared with the fourth quarter of 2005. At year-end 2006, Ingles operated 36 fuel centers compared with 26 at year-end 2005.

    Other growth areas reflect customer trends toward more meal replacement items, and increased interest in fresh products, the retailer said.

    Grocery segment comparable store sales increased 11.6 percent, or $252.7 million from fiscal 2005. Fuel price inflation of approximately 23 percent and a 67 percent increase in total gallons sold increased gasoline department sales. Excluding gasoline sales, comparable store sales increased 7.9 percent, or $164.7 million for the fiscal year.

    During fiscal 2006, Ingles opened one new store, closed one older store, and completed three replacement stores. Ingles' capital expenditure plans for fiscal 2007 include investments of approximately $100 million. The company plans to open four new or replacement stores, remodel four stores, and add fuel stations at 15 existing stores.

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