SALISBURY, N.C. -- Food Lion here reported consolidated first-quarter sales rose 1.3% to $2.31 billion, with a 1.7% gain in same-store sales.
Earnings of $55.2 million, or 12 cents per share, represent an increase of 26.6% over earnings in the year-ago quarter of $43.6 million, or 9 cents per share, the company said. "During the quarter, we experienced positive sales trends for both Food Lion stores and our Kash n' Karry subsidiary," said Tom Smith, president and chief executive officer. "This strength in sales, combined with the company's continued focus on expense control and ability to sustain gross margins, created a first-quarter net margin of 2.4%."
Smith said Food Lion's expense control allows the company to keep food prices competitive.
Food Lion opened 14 new stores (including three replacement units) during the quarter. The company completed six remodels and closed four stores as part of its store performance evaluation process. At the end of the quarter, Food Lion operated a total of 1,164 supermarkets with total square footage of 36.5 million.
Food Lion also completed the restatement last week of its 1997 financial data with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Net income for 1997 was $172.3 million, or 37 cents per share. As reported, sales were $10.2 billion for the year.