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BOULDER, Colo. -- Natural and organics chain Wild Oats Markets, Inc. here yesterday posted a 7.3 percent increase in net sales for its first quarter ended April 1. Its sales of $298.4 million were "in line with expectations," according to the retailer.
Wild Oats attributed much of the increase in same-store sales to the addition of six new stores and one relocated store since the end of last year's first quarter, which more than offset the closure of two stores in February 2006. The company reported a 4.1 percent increase in comparable-store sales and ended the quarter with 2.56 million total square feet.
Wild Oats opened one new Henry's store in the first quarter in Carlsbad, Calif. on March 1and, thus far in the second quarter, has opened a new Wild Oats store in Tampa, Fla. April 5. Both grand openings set records for the strongest grand opening sales in the company's history by their respective format, Wild Oats said.
Net income for the first quarter of 2006 was $2.9 million, or 10 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $1.2 million or four cents per share in last year's first quarter. This improvement was primarily due to a 170-basis-point increase in gross margin vs. last year's first quarter, the company said.
"We are pleased with our continued bottom-line growth in the first quarter, as successful marketing programs drove a favorable product mix shift to higher-margin categories," said Perry Odak, president and c.e.o. of Wild Oats Markets, in a statement. "We grew sales in line with our expectations. As we move through 2006, we will continue to focus on striking a balance between driving higher sales and achieving our gross margin goal of 30 percent for the full year."
The company said it has 15 leases and letters of intent signed for new stores scheduled to open in 2006 and 2007. Wild Oats currently operates 113 natural food stores in 24 states and the Canadian province of British Columbia. The company's markets include Wild Oats Natural Marketplace, Henry's Farmers Market, Sun Harvest, and Capers Community Markets.