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    The Fresh Market’s Q3 Net Sales Up by Double Digits

    Comps grew 3.3%; chain opened 1st Iowa store

    For its 13-week fiscal third quarter ended Oct. 26, 2014, The Fresh Market Inc. posted a net sales increase of 15.1 percent to $419.5 million, while comparable-store sales rose 3.3 percent to $350.3 million.

    The Fresh Market President and CEO Craig Carlock attributed the increase in comps to "our efforts to drive customer traffic and grow basket size in a more competitive environment." During the quarter, the specialty grocer saw a 3 percent increase in the number of transactions and 0.3 percent growth in average transaction size.

    Earnings per share increased 34.4 percent to 31 cents per diluted share, compared with 23 cents per diluted share last year, and adjusted diluted earnings per share (excluding adjustments to store closure and exit costs) grew 17.6 percent to 27 cents.

    Net income in the quarter was $14.9 million, versus $11.1 million in the year-ago period. Gross profit rose 13.1 percent, or $16 million, to $138.1 million, compared with last year. Gross margin for Q3 of fiscal 2014 was 32.9 percent, from 33.5 percent a year ago, which the company said was primarily due to its decision to absorb higher cost inflation and continue promotions in key product categories.

    Operating income was $24.3 million, or 5.8 percent of sales, for Q3 of fiscal 2014, versus $18.9 million, or 5.2 percent of sales, last year. Excluding adjustments to previously recorded store closure and exit costs, operating income was $21.4 million, or 5.1 percent of sales, for the quarter.

    Noted Carlock: "As we look to the fourth quarter, we are focused on providing exceptional food shopping experiences to our customers during the holiday season."

    The Fresh Market Fiscal Year-to-Date Performance

    For the 39-week period ended Oct. 26, The Fresh Market's net sales were $1.27 billion, a 17.2 percent increase from the year-ago period, while comps rose 2.9 percent last year. Net income was $42.8 million, compared with $48.8 million a year ago. Diluted earnings per share were 88 cents, versus $1.01 in the year-ago period. Excluding the impact from store closure and exit costs, adjusted diluted earnings per share came to $1.06 for the period.

    Also during Q3 2014, The Fresh Market opened six new stores, including its first in the state of Iowa.

    Based in Greensboro, N.C., The Fresh Market operates more than 160 stores in 27 U.S. states.

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