Stock in Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage was up by 17% early Friday following the release of solid fourth-quarter financial results and an optimistic outlook for 2015.
The Lakewood, Colo.-based retailer said net earnings in the quarter ended Sept. 30 increased by 43.1% to $3.2 million on a $135.7 million in sales — a 17.8% increase. Comparable store sales improved by 3.7%. For the fiscal year, sales of $521 million increased by 20.9% and earnings were up 27.7% to $13.5 million.
Officials in a conference call said the company expected comparable-store sales of 5% to 8% in fiscal 2015. It expects to open 18 new stores, three relocations and two remodels, and revamp its marketing behind newly hired chief marketing officer Trey Hall, who formerly handled similar roles for restaurant brands including Quizno’s, Smashburger and TGI Friday’s.
Kemper Isley, co-president and chairman, described Hall as “an expert at branding companies and getting that message out.” He said Natural Grocers also had plans to revamp its website and improve social media presence in 2015. He said he did not expect that the company would increase its total marketing spend as a percent of sales, but redeploy it so as to support such digital initiatives over traditional newspaper advertising.
Isley said the company was pleased with the results of a newly launched initiative to open stores one hour earlier and close them one hour later.
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