GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Combining comparable-store sales gains of 5.2% with improved gross margins in its distribution business, Spartan Stores here grew net earnings in its fiscal fourth quarter, ended March 29, by 11.6% to $8.1 million. Sales of $570.7 million in the quarter increased by 9.1% and were up by 18.7% when adjusted for an extra week in the 2007 fourth quarter. Spartan said the sales lift was due primarily to the acquisition of Felpausch stores, along with a comparable-store sales gain of 5.2%. The elimination of sales to Felpausch, a former Spartan distribution customer, also helped affect a margin rate improvement in the distribution segment, the company said. Enhanced purchasing opportunities and more efficient promotions also helped, Spartan added. Sales for the 52-week fiscal year increased 12.5% to $2.5 billion, compared with $2.2 billion in the 53-week preceding year.
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