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AUSTIN, Texas - Whole Foods Market here said yesterday sales for its first quarter, ended Jan. 18, reached a record $1.1 billion, a 21 percent over the $924 million reported last year, and the first time quarterly sales passed the $1 billion mark.
The increase was driven by an 8 percent year-over-year square footage growth, and same store sales growth of 14.3 percent. Some of that increase is attributed to increased sales at its 19 Southern California stores, which are benefiting from the four-month-old strike against Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons. But even excluding the stores impacted by the strike, comparable store sales increased a healthy 12.8 percent.
Net income for the quarter increased 51 percent to $38.7 million, while diluted earnings per share increased 45 percent to 60-cents from 42-cents a year ago. The company attributes the above-average increase in net income and earnings per share to the stronger-than expected sales across the country, a positive contribution from its Atlanta Harry's stores and facilities compared to a loss in the prior year, and lower pre-opening expenses of $1.8 million compared to $3.8 million in the prior year.
"This was one of the best quarterly performances in our 23-year history. For the first time, our sales for the quarter surpassed $1 billion," said John Mackey, c.e.o., chairman, president and co-founder. "Our 12.8 percent comparable stores sales increase, excluding the strike-impacted stores, was well above our 10-year average of 8.5 percent, and this was on top of a 10.5 percent comparable store sales increase in the prior year."
Whole Foods currently operates 154 stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom.