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    UNFI Experiences Q2 Growth, Despite Economy, Specialty Biz Integration

    The wholesaler's CEO cites "continued demand for our products" as a reason for its solid performance, despite modest sales growth.

    United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) yesterday posted net sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2009, ended Jan. 31, 2009, of $847.6 million, a rise of $16.9 million, or 2.0 percent, from net sales of $830.7 million in the year-ago period. Excluding the impact in both periods of the UNFI Specialty division, which the company purchased in the second quarter of fiscal 2008, net sales grew by about $34.0 million, or 4.5 percent, to $792.2 million.

    Net income was $13.6 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 vs. net income for the second quarter of fiscal 2008 of $9.1 million, or 21 cents per diluted share. UNFI Specialty negatively affected operating income by about $0.5 million, or one cent per diluted share, during the second quarter of fiscal 2009. Excluding the effect of UNFI Specialty, net income for the quarter ended Jan 31, 2009 would have been $14.2 million, or 33 cents per diluted share.

    "Our results in the second quarter demonstrate that UNFI is well positioned to navigate through a challenging environment," said company president and CEO Steven Spinner "Lower fuel costs, expense control and continuing integration of our specialty business helped us deliver an increase of over 50 percent in net earnings. While our sales growth moderated in comparison to the prior quarter, our growth excluding UNFI Specialty was 4.5 percent, highlighting a continued demand for our products."

    Spinner additionally noted the company's successful relocation of its distribution center in New Oxford, Pa. to a new facility in York, Pa. last month. "With our York facility up and running, we are now positioned to blend our specialty business in this region into the facility during our fiscal third quarter, which will result in our first fully integrated facility, serving customers throughout the mid-Atlantic region," he said.

    The second quarter of fiscal 2009 also saw the opening of UNFI's new facility in Ridgefield, Wash., the first U.S. refrigerated distribution center to receive Gold LEED certification.

    Dayville, Conn.-based UNFI carries and distributes over 60,000 products to more than 17,000 customers nationwide. The company serves a wide variety of retail formats including conventional supermarket chains, natural product superstores, independent retail operators and the food service channel.

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