FRED MEYER POSTS LOSS, LOWER SALES IN QUARTER

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Reflecting the effect of a series of labor disputes, Fred Meyer Inc. here reported lower sales and a net loss for the third quarter ended Nov. 5. The major dispute involved an 88-day strike by retail clerks in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union that affected 26 stores here and in Vancouver, Wash., plus separate strikes at the company's Clackamas, Ore., distribution center

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Reflecting the effect of a series of labor disputes, Fred Meyer Inc. here reported lower sales and a net loss for the third quarter ended Nov. 5. The major dispute involved an 88-day strike by retail clerks in the United Food and Commercial Workers Union that affected 26 stores here and in Vancouver, Wash., plus separate strikes at the company's Clackamas, Ore., distribution center and trucking operations and at its central bakery, dairy and main office. All those disputes have been settled. The loss for the 12-week quarter totaled $36.6 million, compared with net income of $9.9 million a year ago. Sales for the quarter fell 2.8% to $626.8 million, while same-store sales dropped 12.5%, with comparable food sales down 15.5% and comparable nonfood sales down 10.4%. In the Portland-Vancouver area, which felt the brunt of the retail strike, sales fell 35% to 40%, Robert G. Miller, chairman and chief executive officer, pointed out. Excluding the stores affected by the strikes, same-store sales for the quarter increased 0.6%, with comparable food sales up 1.7% and comparable nonfood sales down 0.1%. Jonathan Ziegler, a securities analyst with Salomon Bros., New York, said the company appears to be on the road to recovery in the strike-affected Portland-Vancouver area, "but the company's overall sales recovery is likely to take a little longer than had been expected because of fairly soft market conditions in western Washington, where the economy is down and competition has heated up."