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Unified Grocers reported improved earnings, along with a 2.7 percent increase in gross billings, for its first fiscal quarter of 2014, which ended Dec. 28, 2013.
The Los Angeles-based distributor reported gross billings of $979.2 million for the quarter, compared to gross billings of $953.4 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2013. Net sales reached $954.7 million, compared to net sales of $946 million for the 2013 period.
The company achieved earnings of $6.4 million before estimated patronage dividends and income taxes, compared to $1.7 million in the 2013 period. This improvement carried through to net earnings, which were $2.8 million for the quarter (compared to a net loss of $0.1 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2013).
"We had a very good start to the fiscal year," said Bob Ling, Unified's president and CEO. "These significantly improved results -- especially the growth in sales and earnings -- are a validation of the actions we took last year to turn around the business. It's only one quarter, but I am very optimistic about the direction we are going."
Ling noted that the growth in Unified's sales activity actually began in the second half of fiscal 2013. "We have a number of key initiatives that will help us continue to build our sales momentum and achieve our long-term objective of growing the business profitably for Unified and our members," he said. "We continue to be diligent about expense control, we are working hard to increase the overall efficiency of our distribution network, and we are focused on delivering the best possible customer service to our members."
Commerce, Calif.-based Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.