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Regional wholesaler Unified Grocers, Inc. saw a 32 percent jump in its third-quarter operating income driven by a settlement awarded to the company relative to the termination of a supply agreement, reductions in operating expenses and strong inventory holding gains for the quarter.
"Consumers continue to be careful about how much they are spending at the grocery store but many of our independent retailers are holding their own in this challenging environment," said Al Plamann, CEO, Unified Grocers. "This is a time when being close to your customers and the community in which you operate really makes a difference — and that's exactly what independents do better than anyone else in the marketplace.
Operating income was $9.5 million for its third fiscal quarter ended July 2, 2011, a $3.1 million increase over last year. Net earnings of $1.2 million for the period were relatively flat as compared to earnings of $1.3 million for last year.
Third quarter sales were down slightly over 1 percent from 2010. This decrease was partially offset by an increase in sales to continuing customers, which included the timing of sales associated with Easter occurring in the third quarter of fiscal 2011 compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2010, and sales to new customers.
On a year-to-date basis, net earnings decreased to $7.1 million as compared to $8 million last year.
"During the third quarter we signed new customers to supply agreements, we increased sales to existing customers and we exceeded our sales goal at our annual buying show for members and customers, which was held in June," Plamann added. "At year's end we believe we will be at our target for sales and earnings."
Los Angeles-based Unified Grocers is a retailer-owned wholesale grocery distributor that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.