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    Ingles Markets 'Off to Good Start' in 1Q

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Regional supermarket chain Ingles Markets, Inc. here posted increased sales and earnings for its fiscal first quarter yesterday, thanks to excellent comparable sales.

    ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Regional supermarket chain Ingles Markets, Inc. here posted increased sales and earnings for its fiscal first quarter yesterday, thanks to excellent comparable sales.

    Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 24, 2005, grew 53.4 percent to $7.8 million compared with $5.1 million for the December 2004 quarter.

    Net sales and comparable-store sales increased 11.5 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively. During the December 2005 quarter, the company completed the replacement of one store and purchased three future store sites.

    "We are off to a very good start with the results for the first quarter of our fiscal year," c.e.o. Robert P. Ingle said in a statement. "Two weeks included in this quarter experienced record sales for our company. We also experienced excellent comparable-store sales growth. Whether it's additional organic products, expanded pharmacy and gasoline operations, or unique specialty departments, we're focused on delivering what our customers want."

    Gross profit increased 8.2 percent, while gross profit as a percentage of sales decreased 80 basis points to 24.6 percent in the current-year quarter from 25.4 percent in the prior-year quarter. Larger sales growth in lower- margin departments and holiday-related pricing incentives contributed to the gross profit percentage decrease, Ingles noted in the statement.

    Ingles' capital expenditure plans for fiscal year 2006 total approximately $75 million. For the balance of the fiscal year, the retailer plans to open four new or replacement stores, add three fuel stations at existing store locations, and purchase sites for future expansion.

    Ingles Markets operates 197 stores, which is the same number of stores it had at the end of the year-ago period, throughout six southeastern states.

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