Nash Finch Tests New Banner

MINNEAPOLIS — Nash Finch Co. here said last week that it has opened a new retail banner called Savers Choice, which emphasizes private-label products and in-and-out deals on merchandise. The store in Farmington, Minn., carries about 80% private label, and includes a service meat department. It also features some higher-ticket general merchandise specials, such as patio furniture and barbecue grills,

MINNEAPOLISNash Finch Co. [4] here said last week that it has opened a new retail banner called Savers Choice, which emphasizes private-label products and in-and-out deals on merchandise.

The store in Farmington, Minn., carries about 80% private label, and includes a service meat department. It also features some higher-ticket general merchandise specials, such as patio furniture and barbecue grills, in the Red Hot Savers Spot section.

“The value proposition is the real anchor of the store,” said Christopher Brown, president and chief operating officer of Nash Finch's retail and wholesale division.

The store opened in a former Econofoods location late in the second quarter. “We'll continue to evaluate the store and look for future growth,” Brown said.

He discussed the store during a conference call covering second-quarter financial results. Nash Finch said sales and net income fell in the period, compared with year-ago results, after the loss of a wholesale customer, declines in same-store sales and some one-time charges.

Net income was down about 5.6% for the 12-week period, to $10.1 million, on a 4.8% decrease in sales, to $1.1 billion. Excluding the impact of the sales decrease of $18.1 million from the loss of business with a group of North Carolina Piggly Wiggly stores and the sale or closure of eight retail stores, total company comparable-store sales fell 2.5%. Retail comps were down 3.7%.

“Our revenue has really been our No. 1 challenge now for quite some time through the recession and then on the back end of the recession,” said Alec Covington, chief executive officer.

Nash Finch said consolidated EBITDA for the period, which ended June 18, was up 4.5%, to $33.4 million, vs. the second quarter of a year ago, and that EBITDA as a percent of sales was also up.

Through the 24-week, year-to-date period, net income was down 6.4%, to $17.5 million, on a 5.8% decrease in sales, to $2.2 billion.