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Holiday Sales Pace Ingles’ Q1 Gains

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Product price inflation and vendor-supported promotions over the holiday season helped Ingles Markets here post a 38.5% increase in net earnings for the fiscal first quarter, the company said Monday.

Net sales rose 5.2% to $918.2 million for the quarter, which ended Dec. 24. Comparable-store sales, excluding gasoline, increased 3.4% as average transaction size gained by 1.3% and customer visits increased by 2%.

“It was a very competitive holiday quarter and we’re pleased with the success of some of our promotions and favorable changes in the mix of products our customers purchased,” Ron Freeman, chief financial officer of Ingles, said in a conference call Monday discussing results. “Inflation in certain categories also helped stabilize margins.”

Net incomes totaled $10.6 for the quarter, driven by an improvement in gross margin as a percent of sales to 25.5%, from 25.2% in the same period a year ago.

Freeman said Ingles spent $63.7 in capital expenditures during the quarter — close to half its fiscal year projection of $120 million to $160 million — mainly on a new warehouse and distribution center. That facility is expected to be open late this calendar year. Ingles’ store capital expenditures over the year will be devoted to smaller projects over a larger number of stores, he added.

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