Spartan Sees Private-Label Gains

Spartan Stores said yesterday that it saw private-label penetration increase to 24.65% on a unit-sales basis in the first quarter, up 1.83% over the year-ago period.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spartan Stores here said yesterday that it saw private-label penetration increase to 24.65% on a unit-sales basis in the first quarter, up 1.83% over the year-ago period.

In a conference call discussing first-quarter financial results, Dennis Eidson, president and chief executive officer, said the company continues to add products to the entry-level Valu Time private label line, and promotes "around 250 items" from the line in many stores every week in the company's highly localized circulars.

Although comparable-store sales were down 1.8% for the quarter — excluding gas and the Easter sales increase — as reported Wednesday, customer counts were down less than half of 1%, Eidson noted.

"We feel pretty good about holding the customer count, particularly against the backdrop of what's going on in our state," he said, citing the bankruptcies of Chrysler and General Motors and the 15.4% unemployment rate — almost double the year-ago level. He also said unseasonable weather in Northern Michigan was dampening sales at the company’s Glen's Market locations in the tourist-centered areas of northern Michigan.

The company is pleased with a test of a loyalty-card program at Glen's, however, describing it as "well-received."

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