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SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Fresh Brands Inc., whose corporate-owned and franchised retail supermarkets operate under the Piggly Wiggly and Dick's Supermarkets brands, today reported record sales and earnings for the first quarter of 2002 ending April 20, 2002.
Net sales for the first quarter of 2002 were a record $184.1 million, a 19.7 percent increase over last year's first quarter sales of $153.8 million due primarily to the acquisition of Dick's Supermarkets. Net earnings for the first quarter of 2002 were a record $1.94 million, an increase of 2.6 percent over net earnings of $1.89 million for the same period in 2001. Diluted earnings per share for the first quarter of 2002 were a record $0.37, an 8.8 percent increase over diluted earnings per share of $0.34 for the same period in 2001.
"Although below our expectations, we are pleased to report record results in the first quarter of 2002, which has proven to be a challenging period for our economy, our industry and our marketplace," said Elwood F. Winn, president and CEO of Fresh Brands. "We believe that our strategy to grow by adding additional brands and expanding our geographic reach, our innovative flagship store design and our proven ability to build strong customer relationships through our loyalty marketing efforts give us a unique competitive edge in our markets."
Retail sales for the first quarter of 2002 improved 47.8 percent to $92.5 million, compared to $62.6 million for the same period in 2001 primarily due to the acquisition of Dick's Supermarkets. Net wholesale sales for the first quarter of 2002 increased 0.4 percent to $91.6 million, compared to $91.2 million last year.
"The key factor in our retail sales improvement came from the addition of the Dick's Supermarkets chain, which was acquired in June 2001," Winn said. "Dick's Supermarkets contributed $29.2 million to net retail sales in the first quarter of 2002. Our sales improvement also benefited from the opening of a new corporate replacement store in Zion, Illinois, in January 2002, which is experiencing dramatic increases in sales over last year. For our Piggly Wiggly franchise and corporate retail chain, same store sales for the first quarter of 2002 increased 1.1 percent, compared to the same period in 2001."
"We attribute the relatively low increase in same-store sales for our Piggly Wiggly stores to two factors -- increased competition in some markets and the impact of the soft economy and increased unemployment on discretionary spending," Winn said. "While customer counts at our stores continue to increase as a result of our successful marketing programs, we are finding that customers are being more discriminating buyers and average transaction amounts are down. We are confident in our programs and direction and believe we will be able to achieve same-store sales increases that are closer to our targeted rate of 2.0 percent as the economy improves and our markets stabilize."