Whole Foods Still Feeling Sandy Impact

AUSTIN, Texas — Whole Foods Market [4] here said Wednesday it is continuing to feel the impact of Hurricane Sandy in its Northeast stores roughly 10 days after the storm hit.

The storm impacted the company at 91 stores and four distribution facilities in four regions, John Mackey, chairman and co-chief executive officer, said during a conference call with analysts to discuss financial results for the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. Whole Foods expects to record a one-time charge in the first quarter for estimated uninsured losses, he noted.

“The company had property, flood, casualty and business-interruption insurance coverage and has just started the process of working with its insurer to assess damages" — a process he said could take several months.

"Many stores in the Northeast region were closed for several days, with several stores in New York City becoming fully operational only last Friday, with many customers without power and shopping patterns disrupted,” he explained. While the chain saw comparable store sales exceeding 11% chainwide Monday and Tuesday of this week, “the Northeast region was comping over 20%, clearly indicating customers are continuing to restock,” Mackey pointed out.

Read more: Industry Staggers Back From Battle With Storm [5]

Pressed by analysts for more details, Glenda Flanagan, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, “It’s hard to tell when the pre-stocking [in advance of the storm] started, and unlike previous hurricanes we’ve experienced, it’s taking longer for power to be returned, so this will have a bigger impact than most typical storms, and we will need a few more weeks to see what post-storm normal looks like to judge the impact over the past two weeks because we’re not through feeling that impact yet.”

For the fourth quarter, which included an extra week, net income at Whole Foods increased 49.7% to $112.7 million, while sales jumped 23.6% to $2.9 billion and comparable store sales rose 8.5%. For the 53-week year, net income increased 35.9% to $465.6 million, while sales rose 15.7% to $11.7 billion and comps were up 8.7%.

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