LOS ANGELES — Unifed Grocers here said yesterday it had lower earnings and sales for the first quarter, which ended Dec. 27, down from record levels in both a year ago following its September 2007 acquisition of Associated Grocers, Seattle.
Net income fell 37% to $3.9 million, which the company said was because earnings attributable to former AG customers are now reflected in Unified's income; it also blamed investment declines tied to the equity markets that were larger than those recorded a year ago. Sales for the quarter fell 0.7% to $1.05 billion.
Unified said that, despite a weakened economy and a difficult overall business environment, it was able to maintain its sales volume close to 2008 levels by increasing sales to its existing customer base, primarily in private-label and specialty food offerings, combined with inflation. Sales growth was offset by the transition of Brown & Cole, a former AG customer based in Bellingham, Wash., to another wholesaler, the company noted.
According to Al Plamann, president and chief executive officer, "We are in possibly the most challenging business environment that any of us have experienced in our lifetimes, and our industry is not immune from the effects of this severe recession. While I'm not surprised our independent retailers have been able to hold their own in their marketplaces, I am pleased the results are strong."
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