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    Unified Revenues Top $4 Billion in '08

    Buying Associated Grocers helped, but new customer business contributed, too.

    Unified Grocers said it reached a significant milestone last week by surpassing $4 billion in revenues for 2008.

    "Despite a deteriorating business climate, Unified performed exceptionally well in 2008," said Alfred A. Plamann, president and c.e.o. of the Los Angeles-based wholesale cooperative. "We successfully integrated Associated Grocers into our company, achieved record sales volume, our earnings are at an all time high, and our operating income continues to grow."

    Unified reported net sales of $4.1billion for its fiscal 2008 ended September 27, up 31 percent from $3.1 last year. Net earnings were $17.4 million for 2008, up 20.6 percent from $14.4 million in 2007.

    Unified attributed $805.7 million or 25.7 percent of its sales growth to customer business gained in the Pacific Northwest from the transaction with Associated Grocers. Continued growth in the company's existing customer base, new customer business (exclusive of the Seattle Operations), and inflation, contributed an additional $165.6 million, or 5.3 percent, in sales over the prior year.

    Unified's 2008 operating income was $64.4 million, compared to last year's $55.7 million, driven by sales growth and improved operating performance - which was aided by inventory holding gains resulting from vendor price increases, profits in the Seattle Operations, and by favorable workers compensation adjustments in the company's wholesale operations. The costs associated with the investment in the wholesaler's Northern California distribution network, which included the closure of a warehouse and the expansion of the its primary regional distribution center in Stockton, Calif., along with the decline in the equity markets, partially offset the growth in income.

    "While we expect 2009 to be difficult and challenging, we believe that our company is well positioned to endure a weaker economy. Unified will continue to have the resources and wherewithal to assist our retail members and customers as they continue to grow their businesses and capture market share from self-distributing chains," Plamann said. "In times like these, our independent retailers shine because of their ability to quickly adapt to fast-changing market conditions."

    Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.

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