SPARTAN SEES CONTINUING SALES MOMENTUM

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Spartan Stores here said last week retail and distribution sales grew for the second consecutive quarter, and the company also said it had its first operating profit in a year.During a conference call with industry analysts to discuss results for the second quarter and first half ended Sept. 13, Craig Sturken, Spartan's president and chief executive officer, said, "We are pleased

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Spartan Stores here said last week retail and distribution sales grew for the second consecutive quarter, and the company also said it had its first operating profit in a year.

During a conference call with industry analysts to discuss results for the second quarter and first half ended Sept. 13, Craig Sturken, Spartan's president and chief executive officer, said, "We are pleased to report that our positive retail and distribution sales momentum continued."

Sturken attributed the sales growth to the company's marketing, merchandising and category management efforts, along with sales from three new stores that opened in fiscal 2003's third quarter.

Also during the quarter, the company completed the divestiture of its Foodtown stores in northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, and used the proceeds from the sale of these stores to reduce corporate debt, Dave Staples, chief financial officer, said during the conference call.

In the 12-week second quarter, net sales increased 3.8% to $491.4 million, comparable-store sales were 0.7%, net income was $1.8 million, and earnings per share were 9 cents, compared with a net loss of $586,000 and a loss of 3 cents per share in the previous year's second quarter.

In the 24-week first half, net sales rose 3.2% to $953.9 million, and the loss was $4.3 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with $44.3 million, or $2.24 cents per share in last year's first half.