UNIFIED: NEW FORMAT TO BUILD SALES

LOS ANGELES -- Unified Western Grocers here said last week it is looking to its recently reformatted Sav Max stores to build sales.er the Apple Markets and Thiftway banners."The new format is expected to provide improved retail sales with the addition of several full-service department offerings that were not previously available," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission

LOS ANGELES -- Unified Western Grocers here said last week it is looking to its recently reformatted Sav Max stores to build sales.

er the Apple Markets and Thiftway banners.

"The new format is expected to provide improved retail sales with the addition of several full-service department offerings that were not previously available," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that accompanied its results for the quarter ended Dec. 29.

In the 13-week quarter, net sales rose 0.3% to $742.5 million, while the company experienced a net loss of $2 million, compared with a net loss of $0.9 million in the previous first quarter.

The company said sales in its retail segment decreased $3.9 million. Although UWG in June acquired three stores that generated $5.2 million in sales in the quarter, this increase was offset by three store closings and an overall volume decline at the company's other stores.

UWG also said its total retail expenses increased $1.4 million in first quarter 2002 compared with the previous first quarter. Most of these expenses involved the Sav Max stores, with $0.9 million going to remerchandising, resetting shelves and reopening one location,and $0.5 million paying for increased operating expenses -- including utilities, advertising and labor -- at all the Sav Max stores.

UWG said sales in its wholesale distribution segment increased $4 million in the quarter. It attributed this gain to a new pricing program in its Hispanic product division that drove a $2.2 million increase in sales.

The remaining $1.8 million increase came from UWG's dairy division, and was driven by an increase in raw milk prices, higher distribution volume and the addition of a Pacific Northwest dairy division in third-quarter 2001.

Unified Western Grocers is a retailer-owned, wholesale grocery cooperative that supplies independent retailers throughout the western United States.