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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Winn-Dixie Stores Inc. on Wednesday announced sales and results of operations for its first quarter of fiscal 2002. Earnings for the 12 weeks ended September 19, 2001 were $22.4 million, an increase of $13.0 million or 138.1% when compared with the same quarter last year. Excluding previous year non-recurring items, earnings increased $6.6 million or 42.1% over the previous year. Increased earnings are primarily due to improved gross profit margins, improvements in procurement obtained from the Company's restructuring plan and a change in our product sales mix account for the increased margins. Continued improvement in gross profit is anticipated through enhanced procurement practices and promotional activities as well as shrink reduction initiatives.
Sales for the 12 weeks ended September 19, 2001 were $3.0 billion, an increase of $13.2 million or 0.4% compared with the same quarter last year. Identical store sales decreased 5.4% and comparable store sales, which include replacement stores, decreased 5.2%. Identical and comparable sales decreased in part due to the elimination of unprofitable sales departments and the elimination of unprofitable sales items in remaining departments.
The Company unveiled an aggressive new marketing campaign on October 3, 2001. The promotion entitled "the real deal" features a series of new multimedia advertisements which management feels will increase customer counts, brand awareness and market share. These expected additional sales in conjunction with improved efficiencies obtained from the Company's restructuring program initiated in April 2000 should positively impact the Company's performance this fiscal year.
Al Rowland, President and CEO, stated, "Our focus is to grow Winn-Dixie profitably based on strong financial fundamentals. We intend to build our sales through continued improvement in store operations, improved merchandising, and an aggressive marketing campaign. With our new advertising campaign, Winn-Dixie 'the real deal,' we will be using heavier broadcast schedules than in the previous 18 months to invite customers into our stores.''
For the 12 weeks ended September 19, 2001, the Company opened one new store and closed one existing store. A total of 1,153 locations were in operation on September 19, 2001, compared to 1,079 on September 20, 2000. As of September 19, 2001, retail space totaled 51.1 million square feet, a 6.1% increase from the prior year. The Company has two new stores under construction.