Ingles Markets on Monday said sales, comps and margins all increased during the fiscal fourth quarter, citing favorable mix changes, inflation and improved consumer sentiment accompanying lower gasoline prices.
Net earnings for the quarter, which ended Sept. 27, improved by 13.1% to $17.6 million, on $964.8 million in sales, a 1.7% increase. Non-fuel comps were up by 0.9%. Officials said sales benefited from increases in average purchase amount, driven by inflation. Excluding gasoline, gross margin as a percent of sales improved by 84 basis points in the quarter.
In a conference call reviewing results, Ingles CFO Ron Freeman said the Asheville, N.C., chain was already seeing a sales benefit as a result of lower gasoline prices. “I think with gas prices dropping, the consumer has more money to spend elsewhere including inside the store,” Freeman said. “So, I think consumer sentiment is pretty good right now.”
Freeman said Ingles planned between $100 million and $140 million in capital expenditures in fiscal 2015. The company spent $110.1 million in fiscal 2014, opening one new store and nine new fuel centers. For the fiscal year, sales of $3.8 billion increased 2.6%, and non-fuel comps were up by 0.9%.
Earnings for the year improved to $51.4 million, an increase of 147.3% from 2013, which was impacted by expenses associated with a refinancing.
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