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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Retailer and grocery wholesaler Fresh Brands Inc. this week reported record sales and earnings per share for its fiscal year ended Dec. 28, 2002.
Net sales for fiscal 2002 were $619.1 million, a 7.8 percent increase over the prior year's sales of $574.2 million. Net earnings for the year increased 5.4 percent to $8.0 million, compared to restated net earnings of $7.6 million in 2001. Diluted earnings per share for 2002 were $1.54, a 6.2 percent increase over restated diluted earnings of $1.45 per share in the prior year.
Retail sales for 2002 improved 15.0 percent to $305.2 million, compared to $265.4 million in the prior year. Net wholesale sales for fiscal 2002 totaled $313.9 million, a 1.6 percent increase over net wholesale sales of $308.8 million in 2001.
"We are pleased to report record results for 2002, especially in view of the heightened competitive environment, the continued softness in the economy and consumers' sustained focus on price. In addition, we made good progress during the year in building our infrastructure for future growth and advancing our strategy of differentiating ourselves from the competition," said Elwood F. Winn, president and CEO. He further noted that comparable store sales for Piggly Wiggly franchise and corporate retail stores increased 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter and were basically flat for the year.
Winn said the company has further positioned itself for the future with a $5.0 million investment in the expansion of its freezer and warehouse operations in Sheboygan. The expansion increased the overall capacity by approximately 30 percent, he noted. "We also improved our health and beauty care, general merchandise and our dairy distribution capabilities enabling us to improve the mix of merchandise in our stores as well as support our future growth plans," he said.
During the remainder of the year, the company expects additional new store openings including another corporate replacement store in Sheboygan, Wisc. (the company's third Fresh MarketCircle store), and expanded and renovated franchise stores in Juneau, Union Grove, Mosinee, Cross Plains and Mayville, Wisc. In addition, Fresh Brands recently announced plans for its first store in Iowa, the first expansion of Dick's Supermarkets.
Winn also said that the board of directors has approved construction of a new and expanded bakery and deli production facility in Platteville, Wisc., and a new and expanded corporate replacement store in Racine, Wisc.
Fresh Brands Inc. operates corporate-owned and franchised retail supermarkets under the Piggly Wiggly and Dick's Supermarkets brands. The company has 74 franchised supermarkets and 28 corporate-owned stores, all served by two distribution centers and a centralized bakery/deli production facility. Stores are located throughout Wisconsin and northern Illinois.