Fresh Market Q4 Comps Up 6%

The Fresh Market posted a 6% gain in comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter, but costs related to the fast-growing chain's initial public offering led to a loss for the period.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Fresh Market [2] here posted a 6% gain in comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter, but costs related to the fast-growing chain's initial public offering led to a loss for the period.

In its first quarterly report as a public company, The Fresh Market posted a loss of $18.14 million, compared with net income of $20.82 million in the preceding year. Many of the company's margin metrics improved, however, as the company expanded sales against its cost structure.

Excluding IPO-related share-based compensation expense and related payroll tax expense in the fourth quarter of 2010, which reduced operating income by $28.8 million, adjusted operating income increased 23.5% to $26.8 million, compared with a year ago. Sales for the quarter rose 13.1%, to $289.44 million. The 6% comp-store gain included a 3.5% gain in the number of transactions and 2.5% gain in basket size.

The company said 1.1% of the growth came from having an extra day, compared with the preceding year. For the year net income was $22.9 million, down about 53% from the preceding year. Adjusted for one-time accounting items, net income rose 36.4% for the year, to $41.2 million. Sales for the year were up 13%, to $974.2 million.