The Fresh Market on Thursday reported softer than expected sales for the fiscal first quarter, although earnings met expectations.
The Greensboro, N.C.-based retailer said comps decreased by 0.1% affected in part by store closures due to winter storms in the period as well as lapping a period of heavy promotional spending in the same period a year ago.
Total sales improved by 7.2% to $462 million, while net earnings of $15.2 million were down by 8.5% from the same period a year ago. Expense controls helped adjusted earnings per share of 50 cents clock in a penny better than Wall Street estimates.
Adjusted EBITDA of $57.9 million improved by 12.3% from the same period last year and gross profits as a percent of sales improved 40 basis points to 34.7% of sales. The quarter ended April 15.
“These results demonstrate our ability to leverage expenses with relatively flat comparable-store sales and we believe this flexibility will enable us to invest in initiatives and help increase customer frequency and attract new customers as we grow our store base and position The Fresh Market for long-term growth,” Sean Crane, The Fresh Market’s interim CEO, said in a statement.
Total revenues fell some $11 million short of analyst estimates. The sales shortfall prompted the company to temper its yearly comp guidance: The Fresh Market now expects comps of 1% to 3% on the year, down from an earlier expectation of 2% to 4% growth. It maintained guidance for total revenue growth and earnings.
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