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LOS ANGELES - Unified Western Grocers Inc., the largest retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor in the Western United States, on Tuesday said its continuing operations achieved earnings of $6.1 million during its first quarter ended Dec. 28, 2002 -- a 39 percent improvement over the same period last year.
Net earnings were $1.3 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $2 million in the first quarter of 2002. As a result of improved performance, Unified generated an estimated $4 million in patronage dividends for members of the cooperative, up from $2.9 million during the first quarter last year. Sales for the quarter were up slightly over last year, the company added.
Unified attributed its improved performance to increases in productivity and throughput in each of the company's five major distribution centers, a company-wide reduction in expenses, improvements in the profitability of its insurance and specialty food subsidiaries, and continued strength in its financing subsidiary. In addition, cash flow from operations and working capital also improved.
"We are encouraged because these results were achieved in a very difficult end-of-the-year retailing environment," said president and CEO Alfred A. Plamann. "I believe that kind of performance speaks volumes about the strength and resiliency of independent retail grocers throughput the Western United States."