NASH FINCH PROFITS FALL, SALES RISE
MINNEAPOLIS — Nash Finch Co. here saw its stock drop sharply last week after reporting a decline in fourth-quarter profits. The wholesaler said net income for the period, which ended Jan. 3, was $6.2 million, down 27% from year-ago levels. Sales for the 13-week quarter were $1.2 billion, an increase of 12.5% over the 12-week quarter a year ago. Excluding the extra week, sales rose 5.3%. Net income for the year was off 6.7%, to $36.2 million, which the company said was negatively impacted by several items totaling $6.1 million, after taxes. Sales for the 53-week year were $4.7 billion, up 3.8% over the 52-week year in 2007. Excluding the extra week's sales of $77.1 million and the impact of $72.8 million in sales lost to a large customer who left in mid-2007, sales rose 3.7%. The company said EBITDA increased in 2008 in each of its three operating segments — up 7.3% in distribution, 13.9% in retail and 16.2% in military supply. “It is clear that changes in consumer behavior, as well as deflation within certain key commodities, will create a challenging business environment for us,” said Alec Covington, president and chief executive officer.
SUPERVALU LAUNCHES TAX PROMOTION
MINNEAPOLIS — Supervalu last week unveiled a “refund reward” program that allows customers to add $20 or $30 to the value of store gift cards purchased in $250 and $300 increments, respectively. The program, similar to the retailer promotions tied to tax-rebate checks last summer, is scheduled to run March 15 through April 15, during what the company called “tax season.” The promotion will be available at Supervalu's Acme, Albertsons, bigg's, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher's, Jewel-Osco and Shaw's/Star Market banners.
MAXI STORES REOPEN AFTER STRIKE
MONTREAL — Ten stores under the Maxi banner have reopened following a four-month strike, Provigo, the unit of Loblaw Cos. that operates the stores, said last week. Workers at the stores, which each have a separate contract, have agreed to terms reached between representatives of Provigo and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 503. As previously reported, two stores that were involved in the initial labor dispute have closed permanently.
ALDI DETAILS TEXAS INVESTMENT
BATAVIA, Ill. — Discounter Aldi here last week said it will spend $125 million on its initial expansion to Texas. The retailer said it has already invested $50 million toward a distribution center under construction in Denton, Texas, that will serve as its area headquarters. The chain, as previously announced, plans to open 25 stores in North Texas beginning next year, along with the distribution center.
FAMILY DOLLAR Q2 SALES INCREASE 8.7%
MATTHEWS, N.C. — Family Dollar Stores here said that sales during the fiscal second quarter, which ended Feb. 28, increased by 8.7% to $2 billion. Sales were driven by double-digit growth in consumables, including food, with apparel sales soft, the company said. Comparable-store sales for the period increased by 6.4%, exceeding the company's previous forecast of 3% to 5% comps. Family Dollar said it will announce earnings results on April 8 but that it expects to post earnings between 59 cents and 61 cents per share, which would also exceed its previous expectations.