ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Ingles Markets  here last week said that net earnings during the third quarter improved by 3.1% as the chain saw increases in store visits and average transaction size.
Sales improved by 0.7% to $917.8 million for the three-month period that ended June 23. Earnings totaled $12.7 million as Ingles realized increases in total sales; a comparable-store sales increase of 2.1% excluding fuel; and decreased interest expense during the quarter.
Gross profits for the quarter increased 2.3% to $205.9 million, or 22.4% of sales, vs. 22.1% of sales in the same period last year. Excluding gasoline, profit margin was 26.1%, up from 26% last year.
Ron Freeman, Ingles’ chief financial officer, in a conference call said the company experienced higher labor costs during the quarter, but used the investment to drive sales and customer service in stores.
More Ingles news: Sales Flat, Profits Dip in Q2 
He added that Ingles began operations at its newly constructed, 836,000-square-foot distribution facility in June. When fully operational, the facility will allow Ingles to self-distribute frozen, HBC and GM product previously provided by third parties. The new facility also produces ice and provides expanded perishables distribution.
“It’s a great project for us with long-term financial and operation benefits and if anything, after a month or so of operation, we’ve been very pleasantly surprised with how well it’s gone.”
|Suggested Categories||More from Supermarketnews|