Promotions Sink Harris Teeter’s Q3 Profits

Investments in promotions in the third quarter put pressure on the operating earnings of Harris Teeter, the chain’s parent company said yesterday. Ruddick Corp. here said operating profit at Harris Teeter was down 3.8%, to $42.8 million, compared with the year-ago period.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Investments in promotions in the third quarter put pressure on the operating earnings of Harris Teeter, the chain’s parent company said yesterday. Ruddick Corp. here said operating profit at Harris Teeter was down 3.8%, to $42.8 million, compared with the year-ago period.

Comparable-store sales fell 1.42% for the quarter (including a 32-basis-point bump from the later Easter this year), but total sales increased by 4.1%, to $964.2 million, buoyed by the addition of 14 new stores since the third quarter of a year ago.

Through the first 39 weeks of fiscal 2009, Harris Teeter posted operating profit of $132.1 million, down 2.2% from year-ago levels. Comps fell 1.15%, while total sales grew 4.7%, to $2.84 billion.

Harris Teeter said it plans to open an additional four stores, including one replacement location, in the fourth quarter. It is also still exploring the possibility of building a new distribution center in Fredericksburg, Va.

The company was reported to be considering the purchase of Ukrop’s Super Markets, Richmond, Va., but did not comment on the possibility of acquisitions in Tuesday’s earnings report.

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