UNIFIED WESTERN GROCERS REPORTS EARNINGS GAINS IN SECOND QUARTER

LOS ANGELES -- Unified Western Grocers here said financial results improved in its core business during the second quarter and first half ended April 2, exclusive of last year's Southern California labor dispute.Sales fell 5.8% to $696.5 million for the 13-week quarter and 7.2% to $1.4 billion for the half. Excluding the effects of the 141-day strike-lockout, which helped boost sales among Unified's

LOS ANGELES -- Unified Western Grocers here said financial results improved in its core business during the second quarter and first half ended April 2, exclusive of last year's Southern California labor dispute.

Sales fell 5.8% to $696.5 million for the 13-week quarter and 7.2% to $1.4 billion for the half. Excluding the effects of the 141-day strike-lockout, which helped boost sales among Unified's independent retail members before it ended in February 2004, Unified said sales for the quarter rose 1.5% to $11.3 million.

Earnings jumped 76.3% to $2.1 million for the quarter and 90.3% to $6 million for the half. Earnings before patronage dividends and income taxes fell 0.7% to $7.6 million for the quarter and rose 33.5% to $21.2 million for the half. Patronage dividends were down 38.2% for the quarter to $3.6 million and increased 8.3% to $11.7 million for the half.

"In a very competitive environment, particularly in Southern California, our core business experienced a sales increase, [which is] very encouraging because it shows our independent retailers are holding their own against some very aggressive competition," said Al Plamann, president and chief executive officer.

"Our earnings also continue to remain strong, thanks largely to investments we've made in our infrastructure and continual focus on cost reductions. With the implementation of new technologies and several process enhancements, we continue to see dramatic improvements in our entire distribution system."