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AUSTIN, Texas -- Whole Foods Market, Inc. reported a leap in sales of 20 percent, to $1.1 billion, for the 12-week quarter ended April 10. The health food supermarket chain attributed the increase, which was the company's first 12-week quarter to surpass $1 billion in sales, to 13 percent weighted average year-over-year square footage growth and comparable-store sales growth of 11.6 percent.
Also during the quarter, identical-store sales (excluding three relocated stores and two major store expansions) rose 10.2 percent; net income grew 22 percent, to $42.0 million; and diluted earnings per share went up 17 percent, to 61 cents.
For the 28-week period ended April 10, 2005, sales surged 21 percent, to $2.5 billion, with comparable-stores sales rising 11.5 percent and identical-store sales going up 10.5 percent. Net income has grown 25 percent to $89.9 million, and diluted earnings per share shot up 20 percent, to $1.33.
Whole Foods chairman, c.e.o., and co-founder John Mackey said in a statement: "Due to our strong sales growth, we are raising our comparable-store sales guidance for the year to a range of 9 percent to 11 percent from 8 percent to 10 percent. We continue to expect diluted earnings per share growth to be lower than sales growth, primarily due to the anticipated acceleration in new store openings."
Mackey said during the conference call this week that the company currently had 59 stores and a record 3.1 million square feet under development, a 41 percent increase in square feet under development over last year. Whole Foods' goal, according to Mackey, is "15 percent annual weighted average square footage growth going forward."
Also during the conference call, co-president and c.o.o. Walter Robb observed that the company's regional managers were taking note of and incorporating such ideas from the flagship 80,000-square-foot store in Austin as larger perishables departments, foodservice venues offering finished meals, and the "stretch" of the retailer's brand to encompass clothing and HBC. "Whole Foods is one big constant experiment," he said.
The company, which had sales of $3.9 billion in fiscal year 2004, currently operates 169 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In other Whole Foods news, the retailer has joined the list of companies who have responded to the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States' call for a boycott of seafood from Canada until that country's annual slaughter of thousands of baby and juvenile seals is permanently discontinued.
In support of the boycott, Whole Foods has agreed not to sell seafood from the part of eastern Canada known as Atlantic Canada (Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and the Magdelan Islands). Additionally, the grocer will place signage and other information in its stores to spur consumer awareness and involvement.