SELL-OFF OF 26 HARRIS TEETER UNITS IMPACTS YEARLY SALES

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- Ruddick Corp. said the divestiture of 26 Harris Teeter stores more than a year ago resulted in a sales decline at its Harris Teeter subsidiary of 2.8% to $2.35 billion for the year ended Sept. 29 and a same-store sales drop of 0.15% for the period.stores in fiscal 2003 and 11 in fiscal 2004, and it expects to close approximately six stores next year.Harris Teeter sales for the 13-week

MATTHEWS, N.C. -- Ruddick Corp. said the divestiture of 26 Harris Teeter stores more than a year ago resulted in a sales decline at its Harris Teeter subsidiary of 2.8% to $2.35 billion for the year ended Sept. 29 and a same-store sales drop of 0.15% for the period.

stores in fiscal 2003 and 11 in fiscal 2004, and it expects to close approximately six stores next year.

Harris Teeter sales for the 13-week fourth quarter were up 6.3% to $588.6 million; same-store sales were flat.

Ruddick Corp., based in Charlotte, N.C., is a holding company for 143 units of Harris Teeter, based here, and American & Efird, a textile subsidiary. Ruddick sales fell 3.6% to $2.6 billion for the year and rose 6% to $665.2 million for the fourth quarter, while earnings rose 17.6% for $56.4 million for the year, excluding a variety of non-recurring items, and 33.3% for the quarter to $16.3 million.

Operating profit at Harris Teeter rose 14.6% to $88.1 million for the year, excluding the non-recurring items, and rose 9.1% to $21.4 million for the fourth quarter.

Thomas W. Dickson, president of Ruddick, said Harris Teeter results validate the decision to divest the 26 stores, "which allowed us to focus on our core markets. We believe focusing on [those] markets will drive additional sales and expand our market share in high-growth markets, [and] our performance in those markets has been very strong."