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    Unified Posts Net Loss in Q3

    Attributed to company's insurance segment

    Unified Grocers Inc. reported a 2.3 percent boost in sales for its third quarter ended June 28, 2014, and a 1.7 percent increase year-to-date, despite taking a net loss in Q3 due to an increase in non-cash reserves of $7.5 million in the company's insurance segment.

    "We have undertaken significant changes to improve the business over the past year, including replacement of personnel, re-examination of our outstanding claims and new claims handling processes, but the impact of those changes has not yet been fully realized," said Unified President/CEO Bob Ling.

    The Los Angeles-based wholesaler posted gross billings of $983 million for Q3, up 4.7 percent from $939 million for the year-ago period. Similarly, Unified year-to-date gross billings were $2.9 billion, compared to $2.8 billion for the same time last year, a 3.7 percent increase. The company's operating income was $11 million, an improvement of $8.3 million on a year-to-date basis.

    Ling noted the company's ongoing improvements to its core business, sales and profitability, adding that "a lot of work has gone in to turning around the business and establishing positive momentum, and that is clearly paying off within our core business."

    The company's wholesale distribution segment showed increases in gross billings of $45.2 million for the quarter, a 4.8 percent increase, and $106.2 million on a year-to-date basis, up 3.8 percent.

    Unified said gains in this regard, along with cost control and improved efficiencies, helped the segment achieve an operating income of $6.1 million for the quarter, up $2.6 million over the year-ago, and $17.4 million on a year-to-date basis, up $9.5 million over fiscal 2013.

    When speaking to Progressive Grocer, Ling noted that "the plan for the rest of the year is to build on the foundation we’ve built that led to such positive results year to date, and focus on growth initiatives such as our deal e-Deals program (24-hour 'hot' deals presented in short videos to retail[er]s by email), our Hispanic marketing initiatives and private label rebranding."

    Unified Grocers supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.


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