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Sprouts Seeks Fuel for Growth in IPO

PHOENIX — Sprouts Farmers Markets is touting rapid sales growth and the potential to add more than 1,000 new stores in a prospectus detailing plans for an initial public offering of stock.

The retailer here, which operated 157 stores as of May 1, said it plans to grow its store count by at least 12% annually over the next five years, with the potential to operate as many as 1,200 nationwide. Sprouts posted comparable sales growth of 9.7% in 2012, according to the filing, and has marked positive comps for 23 consecutive quarters.

Sales for 2012, including Sunflower assets added during the year, totaled $2 billion. The company posted $20 million in net earnings for the year.

Spouts, which is controlled by the private investor Apollo Capital Management, did not indicate how much it intended to raise in the IPO, but said it intended to use proceeds to service debt from its recent refinancing and for general corporate purposes.

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Sprouts in the filing said its combination of natural and organic foods and low prices in produce gives it broader appeal than “high end” natural and organic retailers. Its strategy is to use low prices in produce to attract and then transition conventional grocery shoppers into more loyal “lifestyle” shoppers.

“The foundation of our value proposition is fresh, high-quality produce which we offer at prices we believe are significantly below those of conventional food retailers and even further below high-end natural and organic food retailers,” the company said. “We believe that by combining our scale in and self-distribution of produce, we ensure that our produce meets our high quality standards and can be delivered to customers at market leading prices. In addition, our scale, operating structure and deep industry relationships position us to consistently deliver ‘Healthy Living for Less.’ We believe we attract a broad customer base, including conventional supermarket customers, and appeal to a much wider demographic than other specialty retailers of natural and organic food.”

The IPO would follow those of other growth-oriented speciality food chains that have tapped the public markets recently, including Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, The Fresh Market, and Fairway Holdings.


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