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Nash Finch Posts Profit Gains, Loses Martin’s to Spartan

MINNEAPOLIS — Nash Finch Co. here said yesterday that profits in its retail and wholesale divisions improved in the first quarter even as sales declined. The company also said it will no longer distribute product to Martin’s Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., which accounted for $153 million in volume in 2006 and $3 million in EBITDA. Spartan Stores, Grand Rapids, Mich., picked up the Martin’s account, which it had already been supplying with some products. Martin’s becomes Spartan’s largest customer in the move. Despite closing nine stores and posting a 0.3% decline in comparable-store sales, Nash Finch said the retail division recorded a 12.9% gain in profit for the 12-week first quarter that ended March 24, to $4.8 million, on a 10.4% decline in sales to $135.6 million, compared with year-ago results. The company attributed the profit gains to improved gross margins. Distribution profits improved 1.9%, to $18.2 million, on a 0.9% decrease in sales, to $614.8 million. Overall net income was $5.3 million, vs. $3.9 million a year ago, on a sales decline of 0.2%, to $1.032 billion.