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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Sales dropped 6.5 percent to $1.98 billion during the nine months ended June 30 at Ruddick Corporation, largely due to the displacement of supermarket sales by 26 Harris Teeter stores divested in July.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2002, Harris Teeter sales declined 5.5 percent to $1.76 billion from $1.86 billion in the same period of fiscal 2001. Comparable store sales during the period decreased 0.2 percent.
Operating profit at Harris Teeter increased 9.2 percent to $22.2 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2002. For the nine months ended June 30, 2002, operating profit before non-recurring items was $64.8 million, an increase of 16.7 percent from $55.5 million for the comparable period last year. Operating margin on sales before non-recurring items improved to 3.68 percent for the first nine months of fiscal 2002 compared to 2.98 percent for the comparable period in fiscal 2001.
"We continued to enhance our in-store productivity and our programs to manage costs and reduce waste are proving to be successful," said Ruddick president Thomas W. Dickson. "These results validate our strategic sale of 26 stores last year allowing us to focus on our core markets."
"One consequence of our focus on core markets has been some cannibalization of existing store sales, as six of our new stores opened this fiscal year are in close proximity to existing stores. However, we believe that focusing on our core markets confers a long-term strategic benefit enabling us to capture additional sales and expand market share as these markets continue to grow even though it produces a short-term negative impact on comparable store sales.
"Other factors which impacted the same store sales result included a difficult retail environment and general weakness in supermarket sales. We continue to aggressively engage in promotions and expect greater sales gains as the economy improves. Our focus on our core markets, which we believe have a greater potential for enhanced return on investment, is a long-term strategy."
During the third quarter Harris Teeter opened three new stores and closed one store. At the end of the quarter, Harris Teeter operated 143 stores and management plans to open three additional stores by fiscal year end 2002.