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    Stater Bros. Reports More Customers, Lower Net Income in Q1

    CEO says chain is keeping prices low to retain customers in tough local economy

    San Bernardino, Calif.-based Stater Bros. reported higher sales and customer counts for the first quarter of fiscal 2013, but said net income was down primarily due to its commitment to keeping prices low for its shoppers.

    In its first quarter, which ended Dec. 30, 2012, the company's sales increased 0.83 percent compared to the same period of the prior year. Like store sales also increased $8 million, or 0.83 percent, for the 13-week period. Consolidated sales in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 were $968.7 million compared to $960.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. Customer counts, meanwhile, increased more than 250,000.

    Gross profit margins were 25.88 percent of sales, compared to the 13 weeks ended Dec. 25, 2011, when gross profit margin was 27.03 percent of sales.

    The company reported net income of $5.4 million, compared to net income of $9 million in its first quarter a year ago.

    "The decline in net income was primarily due to a lower gross profit margin in the first quarter of fiscal 2013 compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2012 as a result of our commitment to keep prices low, to the extent possible, to help our customers weather these tough economic times," said Jack H. Brown, chairman, president and CEO. 

    "The company has made a conscious decision to not pass on all of the costs of inflation that we have experienced," he added.

    Brown also noted that the unemployment rate in Stater Bros.' marketing area of 10.9 percent continues to be higher than the national average of 7.8 percent, and the state of California average of 9.8 percent. 

    "Since the beginning of this economic crisis, we have maintained a policy of retaining and growing customer counts by providing value and superior service to our customers," Brown added. "We feel it is important to retain our customers so when the economy does finally turn around they will still be shopping at their local Stater Bros. supermarket."

    Stater Bros. is the largest privately owned supermarket chain in southern California. The company operates 167 stores.

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