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SUNBURY, Pa. -- Weis Markets plans to invest almost $110 million in an extensive capital expansion strategy, the company said yesterday.
The chain said it plans to open eight new superstores, including five replacement units, expand another eleven stores, and remodel eleven others. Chairman Robert F. Weis outlined the strategy at the company's annual shareholder meeting, held here in conjunction with a review of the 157-store chain's 2004 results and goals for this year.
"In 2004, our capital expenditures totaled $82.8 million at 3.9 percent of store sales, which significantly exceeds the industry average," said Weis. "We have budgeted significantly more for our growth program in 2005. Over the past ten years, we have continuously invested in our store base. Since 1995, we have invested $683 million to open 57 superstores and remodel or expand 86 others. This total also includes our investments for technology upgrades and improvements to our distribution center."
Weis also reviewed the company's results for 2004, during which sales increased 2.7 percent to $2.1 billion, while comparable store sales increased a solid 3 percent. For the year, Weis Markets' net income increased 4.8 percent, while basic and diluted earnings per share increased $.10 to $2.11 per share.
Weis said the results helped produce solid returns for all shareholders, noting that the chain’s board of directors last summer approved a special $1 per share dividend that was designed to reward loyal, long-time hareholders. "This $27.1 million expenditure, along with our traditionally strong dividend, resulted in a 6 percent dividend yield for the year."
Noting that Weis Markets' '04 results reflected a year of growth and progress, Norman S. Rich, president and c.e.o. said, "Despite intensifying competition and continued economic underperformance in many of our markets, our company continued to move forward. For our company and our associates, it was a busy and productive year."
Rich also spoke about the company's new store design, which debuted in 2004 at locations in White Marsh, Md. and Bloomsburg and Pennsburg, Pa. "Our new store prototype will be at the heart of our efforts. It is a customer-friendly store design with larger perishable departments, more prepared foods and increased variety," said Rich. He added that its versatile design allows the retailer to tailor a store to the unique needs of an individual market.
Weis Markets also owns and operates 33 SuperPetz units in eleven states.