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    Ruddick Corp. Reports Continual Improvement in Harris Teeter Sales

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ruddick Corporation, the parent company of the Harris Teeter supermarket chain, on Thursday reported an increase in sales during its second fiscal quarter and year-to-date period, thanks in part to new store openings and improved comparable store sales.

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ruddick Corporation, the parent company of the Harris Teeter supermarket chain, on Thursday reported an increase in sales during its second fiscal quarter and year-to-date period, thanks in part to new store openings and improved comparable store sales.

    For the second quarter ended March 30, Ruddick's consolidated sales increased 3.9 percent to $685 million from $659 million for the comparable prior year quarter. For the six months ended March 30, 2003, sales of $1.36 billion were 3.9 percent above the $1.31 billion for the comparable period last year.

    Ruddick also operates American & Efird ("A&E") textile subsidiary.

    In the second quarter, Harris Teeter sales rose 3.7 percent to $610.6 million from $588.8 million last year. The increase in sales was attributable to sales from the opening of new stores (partially offset by the closing of older stores) and a 1.09 percent increase in comparable store sales, the company said. For the first six months of fiscal 2003, total sales increased 3.6 percent to $1.22 billion from $1.18 billion in the same period of fiscal 2002. Comparable store sales for the first six months of fiscal 2003 increased 0.31 percent.

    Operating profit at Harris Teeter of $23.7 million for the second quarter increased by 7.8 percent from the second quarter of fiscal 2002. For the six months ended March 30, 2003 operating profit was $46.1 million, an increase of 8.3 percent from $42.6 million for the comparable period last year.

    The company said Harris Teeter's profit enhancement was driven primarily by continued comparable store sales growth and effective promotional cost management. The operating margin improved despite increases in store labor, credit card fees, pension costs and fringe benefits.

    "We are very pleased with the continued improvement in Harris Teeter sales, operating profit and comparable store sales growth, especially considering the shift in the Easter holiday, which was in the second quarter last year but will be in the third quarter this year," said Thomas W. Dickson, president of Ruddick. "Operating profit again improved to new records while we focused on providing excellent customer service and providing value to our customers. Our ongoing promotions and new programs such as Harris Teeter Rancher beef have been very successful in generating sales in what continues to be a very competitive grocery store environment."

    At the end of the quarter, Harris Teeter operated 142 stores. The company said it plans to open three additional stores by fiscal year end.

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